Reliability in supply and waste management services
The COVID-19 pandemic presents Energie AG with enormous challenges in securing the uninterrupted operation of critical infrastructure (power plants, electricity and gas grids, telecommunication, water supply and waste management). Thanks to the stringent implementation of the strategy pursued by Energie AG and the efficient safety measures coordinated by the internal task force, the high security and quality of supply was warranted during the first COVID-19 lockdown phase since March 2020, as well as the second phase in late 2020/early 2021.
Netz OÖ GmbH secures the energy supply in Upper Austria with a modern and reliable electricity and gas grid and is Austria’s pioneer in the roll-out of smart meter technology, which has now been completed.
In addition to a high-performance grid infrastructure, the security of supply also depends on a secure and flexible energy output. The combined cycle gas-turbine power plant in Timelkam (CCGT power plant Timelkam) plays an important role in congestion management here, and in grid reserve management for transmission system operators. Energie AG’s own gas storage rights (or gas storage contracts) and subsidiaries support the high degree of flexibility. In the future, the development and application of new technologies and intelligent system solutions for the integration of volatile decentralised electricity generation systems (PV, wind) and flexible consumer systems (battery storage, e-mobility, heat storage) will also be of particular importance.
The Waste Management Segment guarantees solutions for hazardous and non-hazardous waste and recycling materials to the highest technological and ecological standards and, due to the two waste incineration plants in Wels and Lenzing, makes a significant contribution to waste management in Austria.
Energie AG has succeeded in establishing itself as a reliable drinking water, waste water management, space heating and hot water supply company in the Czech Republic Segment. The Group intends to deepen its partnerships with municipalities while simultaneously boosting efficiency and competitiveness by making targeted investments in its own water, waste water and heating infrastructure as well as making constant upgrades to the Group’s equipment and vehicle fleet.
Energie AG installs and operates a modern telecommunication infrastructure in Upper Austria and has been investing in the extension of future-proof fibre-optic technologies for around two decades. The Company's goal is to advance the digitalisation and increase the attractiveness of Upper Austria for businesses and residents alike. The majority of public buildings in Upper Austria as well as many companies and private households are already connected to the Group's fibre-optic network.
The most significant advantage of the fibre-optic technology is the elimination of bandwidth sharing (as is required for the 5G network) and the virtually limitless extension of up- and download data capacities. Under the Energie AG Group's 5G strategy, own investments in the 5G technology are replaced by providing infrastructure to the mobile phone companies, which further contributes to the extension of broadband capacities in Upper Austria.
Digitalisation is one of the greatest challenges for Energie AG. On the one hand, the competitive environment is changing at an enormous speed; on the other, innovative, digital approaches are now available that Energie AG Group intends to use for efficient processes and for new business models. True to the motto of “secure digital services”, Energie AG is actively shaping Upper Austria's digital future in collaboration with its customers and partners. Therefore key topics and objectives, and a corresponding roadmap have been developed and consistently implemented.
Energy transition and circular economy
The national energy and climate targets for 2030 as well as the decarbonisation path to be pursued up to 2040 are a very challenging step towards the future energy supply in Austria. By using biomass, geothermal energy and industrial waste heat, Energie AG has for many years pursued a decarbonisation strategy in the area of heat supply and thus plays a pioneering role as a sustainable utility in its market sectors. From the perspective of Energie AG, it is relevant to take a holistic, integrated look at the entire energy system, taking into account the electricity and heat and mobility sectors (“sector coupling”).
In the area of electricity procurement, Energie AG has used its own 43 hydropower plants and corresponding rights to procure electricity generated from renewable energy sources. Energie AG Group also operates 75 PV plants and holds interests in four wind farms across Austria.
Energie AG supports the current government's programme for 2020-2024 by making sustainable strategic decisions. This includes plans for the implementation of a number of power plant projects in the areas of hydroelectric power, photovoltaic and wind power that, by the year 2030, will increase the electricity generated by renewable sources by around 20 percent. This is part of Energie AG's contribution to the climate and energy policy of the Austrian Federal Government, which is pursuing the goal of covering 100% of Austria's electricity demand from renewable energies by the year 2030.
The Paris Climate Agreement seeks to limit the global warming to not more than two degrees Celsius over pre-industrial levels. This means that the CO2 emissions will have to come down to almost zero by the year 2050. Austria has set itself the target of becoming climate neutral by 2040. The necessary transformation process in the energy system is considered the century's greatest socio-political challenge. Mastering this challenge successfully and securing the social security systems over the long term requires the political actions to focus on measures that are aimed at countering climate change as well as those that prioritise the competitiveness of the economy and security of supply.
On EU level, the focus is on revisions and discussions related to the wording of existing directives, with the objective of achieving the higher CO2 reduction target of at least –55% over the period between 1990 and 2030 agreed as part of the Green Deal. The Austrian parliament has negotiated the Renewable Energy Expansion Act and is working on a revised Energy Efficiency Act.
Further information on the fundamental political and regulatory framework can be found in the Group Management Report, Energy and climate policy environment and Statutory and regulatory framework in the Grid Segment.
As a pioneer in the area of sustainable energy supply and partner for the energy transition in Upper Austria, Energie AG endorses the energy and climate goals and supports them with concrete measures and projects: Environment section. Most Energie AG Group projects pursue the objective of advancing the use of renewable energy and improving energy efficiency on the one hand, while on the other hand reducing the consumption of resources and production of waste both within the Group as well as at the customer.
In the interest of a sustainable waste management and circular economy, the operations of the Waste Management Segment are optimised by maximising the utilisation of synergy effects, additional resource conservation, and more efficient recycling processes, e.g. by increasing the utilisation of waste heat (Wels waste incineration plant).
Additional electricity generation from renewables until 2030
The focus on the customer
The Energie AG Group stands for high-quality, reliable products and services, which it continuously and consistently adapts to customers’ needs. New innovative solutions aim at generating additional value for the consumer, e.g. by creating special incentives for the purchase of environmentally friendly products or by digitally supporting the consumers' decision-making processes.
Energie AG ascertains the needs of its customers by approaching them pro-actively, involving them in decision-making progresses, and creating a transparent and open communication that forms the basis for a similarly trusting and valued exchange with them.
In its business environment, Energie AG stands for sustainable and fair solutions, which it can guarantee on the basis of permanent process optimisation efforts. Despite wholesale prices increasing since 2017, private and business customers alike were guaranteed stable prices for standard electricity products. The customer offers for standard gas products have also remained unchanged for many years. In 2020, the prices for internet services were guaranteed for the first time. Shortly before the end of the 2020/2021 fiscal year, existing customers were offered a price guarantee for electricity, gas and internet until 1 January 2023. These actions reinforce the positioning of Energie AG as a reliable and fair partner. Due to the massively increased procurement costs, the electricity and gas prices for new customers have to be adjusted to market levels.
Customers have particularly high expectations for Energie AG Group when it comes to measures aimed at protecting the environment and the Company's involvement in social causes. In the case of environmental protection, the company meets these expectations by investing in renewable energies and the establishment of a sustainable circular economy. Turning to social responsibility, Energie AG contributes to the public welfare by providing ongoing support in the areas of health, education, sport, arts and culture as well as charitable and not-for-profit activities. The Group has clearly articulated its solidarity when it actively supported customers who were severely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. in the form of goodwill arrangements.
Safeguarding the legitimate interests of its customers is a top priority for Energie AG. This not only applies with respect to an ethically exemplary treatment of customers in accordance with the Group's Code of Conduct, but also when it comes to the handling of personal data. Internal controls have been implemented to assure the Group's compliance with the relevant regulations. Since autumn of 2019, an awareness campaign has focused on raising employees' awareness for the prudent handling of customer data and potential risks (cyber crime etc.).
As the energy supplier for Upper Austria, Energie AG has positioned itself as a strong regional partner for its customers and is an important economic factor for the state. A high degree of regional value creation is achieved by the generation of energy in our home state, extensive investments in infrastructure projects across the state (expansion of electricity generation systems, fibre-optic network etc.) and the associated creation of jobs.
Digitalisation provides an important impetus for the region. Energy AG advances the development of pioneering technologies and uses them to increase the quality of its customers' lives in their direct environment – e.g. by providing the means for a more efficient use of energy and extending the coverage of the fibre-optic network in Upper Austria.
Similar to Austria, the water and heat markets in the Czech Republic are distinguished by a very regional structure. All services provided by Energie AG in the Czech Republic are rendered by seven regional and local water utility companies, five heat utility companies and one mixed water and heat utility company.
Energie AG's financial goal is to achieve attractive returns, to sustainably secure the value of the Energie AG Group and to continue to be a reliable and interesting business partner for owners and investors in the future. Financial stability is supported by the balanced Group portfolio of liberalised and regulated business models. A further basis for success is the efficient management of risks and opportunities. It empowers the Group management to identify challenges at an early stage and to take effective measures in good time.
The Group responds quickly to dynamic changes to the statutory framework, as well as market-based challenges stemming from changes in customer needs or competitors from outside the industry.
Without motivated and committed employees, strategic goals are unachievable. The employees working at Energie AG are the Group's most important resource. Energie AG prevails in the competition for talent by implementing a strategically coordinated recruiting process and succession management. The Group has also taken measures to further improve its reputation as a preferred employer.
The Group's successful apprenticeship programme trains the specialists needed by the Group's business sectors and includes measures in the area of diversity that send an important socio-political signal.