According to the International Renewable Energy Association (IRENA), the private sector is leading the energy transition globally, providing 92% of the world’s total investment in renewable energy. Corporations in the energy sector and beyond recognise that renewable energy is the future of doing business as we shift towards a sustainable low-carbon economy. More and more corporations agree that switching to renewable energy can actually help save money and offers unprecedented business opportunities. Embracing the renewables revolution will mean companies being at the frontlines of this new energy system, or being left in the dust.
One company that is pushing the limits of what is possible with renewable solutions is E.ON. From smart home solutions, to e-mobility, to empowering energy prosumers, E.ON is an example of a company that will thrive in the new energy world, which is why they are sponsoring the SolarPower Summit, Europe’s leading event on global solar development, on 14-15 March in Brussels. We sat down with Jens Martin, CEO at E.ON to discuss how they are embracing the renewables revolution and how Europe can be at the frontlines of this revolution.
SolarPower Europe: What is the role of digitalisation in today’s electricity system? How is that reflected in your services?
JM: Currently we see different sectors like electricity, mobility and heating all melting together -digitalisation makes this possible because it all happens on IT platforms. For example, we can offer our customers a smart home system where the heat pump, the electric car, the roof top solar panels and the E.ON SolarCloud are connected with our smart meter in a way that the entire system is continually optimising itself. As the home is connected to the grid, this system ensures that peak load times are avoided so that all energy is used when and where it is needed most. The customer only has to check an app on their smartphone to make sure everything is running smoothly at home.
SolarPower Europe: E.ON is one of the leading utilities in Europe offering innovative solar plus storage solutions for its customers, how do you see this trend developing in Europe?
JM: We expect the costs for solar and for storage to decrease steadily as technological innovation continues in both sectors. While Europe has been behind on this trend, solar and storage are now entering important markets like Italy, the UK or Nordic countries. Today E.ON is already offering solar-plus-storage solutions in these countries, or will do so very soon. Europe must embrace this trend if it wants to realise a consumer-driven and cost-effective energy transition.
SolarPower Europe: E.ON has been heavily investing in renewable energy. According to you, what will make Europe a leader in solar and renewables again?
JM: Europe must strengthen its efforts to increase the development of renewable energy. In order to do this, it is necessary to find a proper mechanism that is not simply built on subsidies for new renewable capacity, as many renewable technologies such as solar can already be built on a large-scale subsidy free. In order to seriously lower CO2 emissions, mechanisms such as a fixed price of 25 Euro per ton of emitted CO2 minimum can encourage further renewable deployment. This can stimulate new investments into renewables and make Europe a world leader in solar and other renewables again.
To learn more about these innovative topics and the future of Europe’s solar sector, join us on the 14-15 March in Brussels for our annual SolarPower Summit.