Energy Transition Award: Utilities are honored for sustainable energy concepts

Expert Interview – June 03, 2024

The Energy Transition Award (EWA) is a renowned prize for the pioneers of the energy transition in the German-speaking regions and will be awarded for the eighth time on June 20, 2024 at The smarter E Europe.

In an interview with Markus A.W. Hoehner, founder and CEO of EUPD Research, we asked what offerings and concepts merit an award and what recent developments drive utilities.

Interview with Markus A.W. Hoehner, founder and CEO of EUPD Research

What made you set up the Energy Transition Award for utilities? Why is this award important for the industry?

We share the goal of driving the energy transition with The smarter E. Since 2017, we have been conducting an annual mystery shopping survey in Germany, Switzerland and Austria to analyze the services that utilities offer to end customers. Our award provides clear guidance on what service best suits a customer’s needs.

Utilities have the trust of end customers – even more so than installers –, and this presents them with challenges as well as opportunities. At a time when sustainable energy solutions are becoming ever more important, the award can help consumers identify utilities with a comprehensive and exhaustive range of sustainable energy concepts. Honoring innovative approaches in the four categories – Electricity, Heat, Energy Efficiency and Mobility – showcases the dedication of utilities for a sustainable energy supply.

The award carries clout within the industry by featuring exemplary best practices and innovative approaches. It raises awareness of environmental responsibility and encourages companies to continuously improve their ecological and social footprint while contributing to a positive image and strengthening consumer and investor confidence into the industry’s sustainable business practices. Recognizing outstanding performance boosts the competition for sustainable solutions and fosters a more widespread implementation of environment-friendly and resource-conserving technologies and processes.

What are the main challenges for utilities en route from a traditional energy business to a supplier of sustainable energy solutions?

Utility companies face the challenge of having to transition from being a traditional energy business to offering sustainable energy solutions. Customers are important players in the energy system transformation. By opting for green electricity, PV installations, storage devices, EV-chargers and heat pumps they affect demand, and at the same time producing their own green electricity makes them more independent. In the face of these changes, utility companies need to develop the right services and products that meet the evolving customer demand.

This development is being accelerated by a number of factors, such as the Ukraine war. In order to keep up with the latest technologies and improve existing solutions, companies also need to invest into research and development. Continuous investment is vital to be successful in a competitive market.

What’s more, the transition towards sustainable energy solutions requires new knowledge and skills. Utilities must ensure that their staff are adequately trained and qualified to master the new technologies and processes. Only then will they be able to face up to the challenges and consolidate their position as a supplier of sustainable energy solutions.

Do you have any examples of the successful integration of a product and service portfolio by a utility company?

Following several months of intensive project work, we are delighted to honor utilities in the umbrella category Energy Transition at The smarter E Europe. The Energy Transition category is awarded for outstanding achievements in all four categories. This year’s winners include utilities who only qualified for one out of the four categories in previous years, and who have now accomplished excellent products and services in all categories, i.e. Electricity, Heat, Energy Efficiency and Mobility.

Which trends can you identify based on the surveys of utility companies for the Energy Transition Award selection?

One important trend is the search for holistic solutions on the part of end customers, in other words solutions that go beyond the mere supply of electricity. This is where concerted efforts play a key role, combining energy production, storage and efficiency. This brings sector coupling to the fore, because sector coupling enables the creation of an efficient overall system integrating various types of energy and applications.

Nowadays, it’s about more than just installing PV systems and storage devices, it’s about integrating technologies such as heat pumps and charging infrastructure in order to optimize energy consumption. In addition to the individual categories – Heat, Electricity, Energy Efficiency and Mobility, the umbrella category Energy Transition is of particular interest because it does not just celebrate the success of individual aspects, but of the industry’s sustainable energy supply as a whole.

What can we expect from this year’s Energy Transition Award ceremony, which will be more international than previously?

This year, utility companies from three additional countries – Italy, France and Denmark – have joined the competition, which underlines the growing importance of our joint European efforts to secure a sustainable and environment-friendly energy future. It also reflects our belief that the challenges of the energy transition require a cross-border knowledge exchange. We look forward to exciting panel discussions with the category winners from the German-speaking regions and to learning about other countries’ challenges and approaches.

8th Energy Transition Award for utilities
June 20, 2024 | 2:00pm–4:00pm
The smarter E Forum, hall B5, booth B5.550

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