Business models fit for the future – innovation

Research and development within Energie AG focuses on projects that cater to the strongly growing demand for digital services as well as the increased use of renewable energy sources. Energie AG warrants the practicability and demand-orientation of pioneering business models by involving the stakeholders as early as possible in the development process.

Wertstatt 8 GmbH (Wertstatt 8) has been developing innovative solutions for the energy transition as an independent innovation company since 1 October 2019 with the goal of exploring the potential of different subject areas for future business models and placing an even stronger focus on the advancement of innovation-related activities. A dedicated innovation lab geared to the specific needs of innovation work was opened in December of 2021. Wertstatt 8 is continuously developing new solutions that cater to individual customer requirements. Rapid learning and experimentation is used to work on innovative concepts in areas such as sustainability, the circular economy or energy. The open innovation approach is used to develop sustainable service proposals together with customers and external partners (e.g. Industry meets Makers (IMM), bizup, Energy Institute at Johannes Kepler University (JKU) of Linz, or industry partners from the network of Wertstatt 8 GmbH). To promote the dialogue with employees, Wertstatt 8 has founded an internal sustainability community in fiscal year 2021/2022.

One of the solutions developed by Wertstatt 8, the online heating adviser “HEINZI”, supports customers who need to renovate their heating system by recommending heating technology options in accordance with their individual requirements and preferences. “HEINZI” also provides information about the heating systems’ CO2 and fine dust emissions and supplies users with information about financial support for heating system replacements from the federal or state governments. Customers receive non-binding cost estimates and may request to be connected with specialist companies in the region who can support them in the practical implementation.

Users who are interested in installing privately-owned PV plants are supported by Energie AG’s “PV calculator”, which allows them to calculate the potential capacity and cost efficiency of their own PV plant. Energie AG thereby enables its customers to gain a quick overview of available options and receive suitable offers. Netz OÖ GmbH is the electricity grid operator for Energie AG and offers its customers a wide range of information and support in installing their own photovoltaic systems. In the fully automated approval process with the licensed electrical services companies, the latter also act as the point of contact for customers. Due to the sudden jump in applications in early 2022, Netz OÖ GmbH offered customers an extensive pool of information on its website at and also introduced online tools for customer support.

In combination with a special new tariff model, the “E-Fairteiler” app developed by Wertstatt 8 and launched in July 2021 enables groups of private electricity producers and consumers to distribute their internally generated PV electricity (peer-to-peer trading) within the group. The only prerequisite is a smart meter. Surplus electricity can be sold to one or several groups of other customers (without a PV system) at an individually set price. The price is set in the app by the group administrator. By joining the group, the individual decides whether or not they accept the set conditions. More features for the “E-Fairteiler” app are planned. As of 30 September 2022, 793 customers had already used the app. No new tariff has been offered since the end of April 2022 as a result of the turbulences on the energy markets and the resulting difficulties in determining the price of electricity.

Suggestions for improvement are solicited from all Energie AG’s employees on the “Loominati” platform – from small ideas about how to make savings to all-new business models. The most important asset for this to succeed is an innovative and highly motivated workforce, with staff able to play their part in the optimisation of operational processes and the ongoing development of the Group by sharing their ideas and expertise.

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In the 2021/2022 fiscal year, this translated to 130 suggested improvements submitted by employees from all units within Energie AG Group in the form of a “Loominati” idea (previous year: 101).

The regularly conducted digitalisation initiative “Neuland” is one of the measures taken to implement Energie AG’s digital strategy. Many pioneering ideas were once again received from Energie AG’s employees in the past fiscal year 2021/2022. The initiatives included, for the first time, a hackathon, which allows employees to program their own digital solution on the basis of Microsoft PowerPlatform. Competent IT coaches supported the team with training during the lead-up to the event as well as directly in the development of new apps and workflows that can make their daily work easier by digital means. This was accompanied by brief webinars that were offered to the employees in the form of twelve inputs over 30 minutes each. A total of 482 staff members have used them for digital training. The PowerPlatform skills developed at the occasion of the hackathon represent solid knowledge that is added to the overall organisation and used sustainably for the development of other digital solutions.

New technologies

Energie AG believes that new technologies offer great potential for developing solutions for future challenges and harnessing opportunities in existing and new business areas. Accordingly, new technologies are afforded a high priority in the Group’s research, development and innovation activities. The works in fiscal year 2021/2022 included, among others, projects in the areas of decarbonisation, flexibilisation, safety, digitalisation and automation.

For more information, see the Group Management Report, Research, development and innovation.

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