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E.On aims to be ‘pacesetter’ in digitalised clean energy market

German energy giant E.On has set its sights on being one of the “pacesetters” of the digitalisation of the energy market as it looks to evolve following the spinoff of its nuclear business.

The energy supplier released its 2016 annual report this morning, its first since the separation of its nuclear business which was prompted by Germany’s decision to migrate away from nuclear power.

A €10 billion charge associated with that migration has significantly impacted upon E.On’s bottom line, however chief executive Johannes Teyssen said that the company was now placing its impetus behind a vision driven by renewables, smarter grids and digitalisation of clean frameworks.

“We intend to be a pacesetter in the digitalisation of the energy business. Increasingly, digitalisation will be a defining feature of the solutions we offer our customers.

“The energy future is green, distributed, and digital. But this market is more fragmented than the conventional energy world,” Teyssen added.

Teyssen also highlighted how each of E.On’s three core businesses (networks, customer solutions and renewables) could combine to offer “significant advantages” in the energy market, specifically discussing the potential for those units to collaborate for packages such as sustainable solutions for cities.

As a result it has listed strategic objectives to include increasing the cost effectiveness of existing wind and solar assets, develop energy storage and distribution solutions for decentralised power systems, and the exploration of intelligence and data systems to incorporate into new business models.

To this end, E.On has revealed it is working on a number of innovation and research projects established to bring new products to market.

The company appointed Matthew Timms as its chief digital officer last July and he has been tasked with leading a group-wide “transformation initiative” to explore ideas capable of improving customer service, automation and allowing the firm to “tap new sources of growth through disruptive business models”.

That initiative has identified a number of ideas which E.On is to validate and implement in the coming months.

While E.On didn’t disclose details surrounding those initiatives, it did discuss a pilot project it is in the process of launching in Simris, a community in southeast Sweden which has received a small offgrid energy system.

One business and 160 homes in Simris have been connected to wind and solar generators and a battery storage system is to follow in the coming months. The project will launch later in H1 2017 and see the participants in the trial disconnect themselves from Sweden’s national grid for certain periods of time.

The trial is to last for three years, with E.On analysing the results intermittently.