Stakeholder expectations are setting the limits
The consequences of climate change are becoming more and more visible. Politicians and legislators have begun to respond and are turning our energy generation and utilization upside down.
Regulations on a regional, national and international level are setting off radical changes in the energy sector. Events such as Fukushima have served to speed up the Energiewende even more. For companies, this is creating major challenges—along with equally significant opportunities—even beyond the energy sector. Limiting global warming to a maximum of 2 degrees Celsius by 2050 as compared to the pre-industrial era—this is the climate target set by the United Nations, and it means that politics and science have limited the use of fossil fuels to an unprecedented extent. To reach this goal, 80 percent of fossil energy sources known today are no longer permitted for use. The EU is promoting a “low carbon economy” and demanding that “all economic sectors must contribute to a low-CO2 economy.” Through its climate protection plan, the German government is planning, by 2050, to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent as compared to 1990. This is bringing about lasting changes in the energy market, in companies and in consumer behavior.
Companies are benefiting from innovation and networks
The transformation of the energy market is resulting in striking consequences for energy producers: The financial market is cautioning against new investments in fossil energy sources which, in turn, is leading to disinvestments of large funds. At the same time, new business opportunities are arising: According to the Federal Network Agency, for instance, in early 2018 Germany was able to cover the entirety of its energy needs from green energy for the very first time. This would never have been possible without technological innovation—a traditional strength of the German industrial sector, which continues to be its hallmark. In terms of production, many companies have picked “low-hanging fruit,” not only reducing emissions by becoming more efficient, but also saving money. To continuously drive forward the Energiewende, however, we now need to focus on the development of new products and services, particularly in the areas of heat, transportation and agriculture. Customers are welcoming these developments more than ever. Increased environmental awareness along with modern lifestyles are changing consumer behavior—energy-efficient living, environmentally friendly mobility and resource-saving nutrition are all en vogue. This must all be based on sustainable paths of energy generation and utilization.