Avacon, an E.ON energy supplier in north-central Germany, held a Municipal Utilities Dialogue in October 2021. The purpose of the event was to deepen trust and collaboration with the many municipal utilities located within Avacon’s grid territory. Natural gas infrastructure was a key topic of discussion, especially with regard to making it hydrogen-ready so that it can be part of Europe’s future hydrogen economy. Avacon also presented how it’s embracing the digital working world, including the new hybrid offices at its headquarters in Helmstedt.The grids of E.DIS Netz, an E.ON distribution system operator (DSO) in eastern Germany, extend in places to the Polish border. It’s therefore hardly surprising that E.DIS representatives joined more than 200 other participants at the German-Polish Energy Conference in August 2021. Presenters at the one-day event, which was held in Szczecin in northwest Poland just a few kilometres from the German border, showcased hydrogen, wind, and solar projects being conducted along the German-Polish border as part of the European Green Deal. E.DIS presented Moew.e (Mobile energy with E.DIS), a mobile battery solution designed to enhance grid stability.In September 2021 LEW Lechwerke, an E.ON subsidiary in south-central Germany, commemorated its 120th anniversary in part by holding Climate in Dialogue, a one-day conference on the transition to a greener energy world. The event brought 100 guests to the company’s headquarters in Augsburg. They included local politicians and business leaders as well as representatives of civil society organisations, journalists, and residents of Augsburg and the surrounding areas. Dr. Veronika Grimm, a professor of economic theory at Erlangen-Nuremberg University, gave the keynote speech on ways to achieve climate neutrality.
E.ON again observed European Sustainable Development Week (ESDW, 20 to 24 September 2021) by conducting a series of events to reinforce employees’ awareness of, and engagement in, sustainability. The focus topic in 2021 was biodiversity. E.ON already promotes biodiversity in many ways. One is by taking an ecological approach to planning and managing 8,000 hectares of vegetation under and near our high-voltage power-line pathways in Germany, an approach that will now be extended to all our service territories in Europe. By 2029, we intend to put in place specific vegetation-management plans for each hectare of woodlands. As part of ESDW, Management Board members Leonhard Birnbaum and Thomas König joined biologist and renowned nature photographer Chris Kaula for a bicycle tour of some of the ecologically managed pathways. The board members’ social media posts on the experience reached as many as 4 million outside stakeholders.Heavy flooding in mid-2021 in western Germany and neighbouring countries caused enormous damage, including in the service territory of E.ON DSO Westnetz. Our technicians worked tirelessly to restore power as swiftly as possible. Other E.ON employees wanted to help too. So we set up a website at which our employees could make a donation. The campaign raised a total of just under €33,000, which was donated to the German Red Cross.In 2021 E.ON resumed, after a pandemic-induced hiatus in 2020, the annual dialogues with municipalities in its DSOs’ service territories. The events serve as a forum at which our municipal stakeholders – mayors, district council members, and works council chairpersons – can learn more about the latest grid developments in their area, ask questions, and voice their concerns. Presentations by E.ON Management Board members Thomas König and Victoria Ossadnik focused on sustainability, digitalization, and cybersecurity as well as the importance of resilient networks. The latter was of particular relevance in 2021 in view of heavy flooding in July in the grid territory of Westnetz, an E.ON DSO in western Germany.In early October 2021 we held our annual E.ON Energy Innovation Days, Europe’s biggest event devoted to energy and innovation. For three days, about 10,000 people worldwide gathered in E.ON’s virtual community, Republic of Innovators, to participate in 33 sessions and listen to 83 speakers discuss innovation in the three key areas of the energy transition: electrification, connectivity, and digitalization. The speakers included E.ON CEO Leonhard Birnbaum and Frederik G. Pferdt, Chief Innovation Evangelist at Google.E.ON published a position paper prior to Germany’s federal elections in September 2021. We pointed out that the new German government will be the last to have a significant influence on the country’s ability to meet its climate targets for 2030. We therefore urged it to shift immediately into implementation mode and draft essential climate-protection legislation in its first hundred days. For example, Germany needs a regulatory framework that promotes investment in energy infrastructure to keep the energy supply reliable and that accelerates the deployment of smart meters and other digital solutions to manage fluctuations in renewables output. In addition, the approval process for network expansion needs to be shorter so that network capacity can keep pace with renewables growth. We believe that the energy transition must be fair and thus that electricity must remain affordable. Consequently, we also urged the new government to reduce electricity taxes to the EU minimum, adopt a market-based approach to renewables and, make subsidies the exception rather than the rule. Hydrogen will play a key role in enabling hard-to-decarbonize sectors like steel and chemicals to become climate-friendlier. We therefore pointed out that Germany needs to invest in production capacity for hydrogen and other green gases.Our subsidiary PreussenElektra is responsible for the safe and reliable operation and dismantling of our nuclear power plants (NPPs). Ongoing dialogue with stakeholders is essential. We communicate with a broad range of stakeholders through press releases and briefings as well as events and forums that provide the opportunity to dialogue directly with stakeholders and to benefit from their feedback. The aim of all these measures is to provide transparent information and build trust.
Dialogue remains important as we decommission and dismantle our assets. In 2021 we were again able to hold in-person events, such as media events at Isar, Grafenrheinfeld, Grohnde, and Unterweser NPPs. In the fall of 2021 we also conducted forums for our most important local stakeholders. The dialogue group for residents near Brokdorf NPP, created in 2019, continued in 2021. The group meets periodically and serves as a forum in which we can respond to resi¬dents’ questions and concerns regarding Brokdorf’s decommissioning. In addition, PEL is a member of the commission regarding the dismantling of Grohnde NPP that was established by the Hameln-Pyrmont district government in October 2020. In May 2021 the Grohnde dialogue group visited Würgassen NPP, which has already been decommissioned and largely dismantled. All of these events complied fully with the respective Covid-19 rules.
We also interacted frequently with media representatives and other stakeholders, particularly in conjunction with the closure of Grohnde and Brokdorf NPPs. In addition, we increased the information offerings our website. Examples include time-lapse videos of NPP dismantling.