In an interview, Filip Thon talks about sustainability goals, the path to CO₂ neutrality and the opportunities for bidirectional charging in e-cars.
Filip Thon has been CEO of E.ON Energie Deutschland GmbH since April 1, 2021. After graduating in engineering in Prague, Thon joined Andersen Consulting (Accenture) in 1995 as an analyst. At the same time, he did his doctorate in the Czech Republic and switched to RWE Energy Czech Republic in 2004. In 2019 he became Senior Vice President for Central and Eastern Europe at E.ON SE. In the auto motor und sport interview, he answered the questions from editor-in-chief Birgit Priemer.
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We want to be climate-neutral in our directly controllable emissions by 2040, but the lever that we have together with our customers is even greater. With our climate-friendly solutions, we help them to reduce their own CO₂ footprint and think holistically. An example: A large part of our wallbox portfolio is already being sold to private customers with a neutral CO₂ footprint. To do this, we have calculated the footprint over the entire product life cycle and offset the emissions. In terms of electricity contracts, all of our household customers will have switched completely to green electricity by 2024. Green electricity is already the standard for new household customers who actively opt for an E.ON special tariff. We also set a good example for ourselves because we want to be pioneers. In the Group, everything is put to the test with a view to the sustainability goals. This starts with building and route management, continues with the electrification of the vehicle fleet and extends to more regional and vegetarian options in the canteen - every step towards climate neutrality is important.
The UN Sustainable Development Goals are a big framework and we make a positive contribution to them with our business. In particular, the goals "affordable and clean energy", "sustainable cities and communities" and "climate protection measures" should be mentioned here. When it comes to supply chains, we have a strict code to which we and our suppliers commit ourselves. This includes consistent compliance with standards on human rights, working conditions, the environment and ethical business practices.Because the transformation to more sustainability will only succeed if we all work together. We therefore see our suppliers as partners with whom we look for solutions together - this also makes E.ON a platform for the energy transition.
The energy transition is a central task for our entire society and affects many actors. The good thing is that each individual can make a contribution - it starts with the green electricity tariff and extends to e-mobility and your own solar system. Of course, this requires the right framework conditions. The most recent amendment to the Renewable Energy Sources Act was already a step in the right direction. It is even more attractive for single-family house owners to invest in photovoltaic systems. In the interests of our customers, we would like the conditions for tenant electricity models to be improved in the future in order to bring the energy transition more strongly into the cities. Another important building block for the decentralized energy system of the future are intelligent measuring systems, the so-called smart meters. Technical and regulatory hurdles have to be removed in this country so that we can catch up compared to other European countries.
Saving energy is the order of the day, every kilowatt hour saved helps in the current situation and of course also in terms of climate protection. Here are a few figures: If every household in Germany that heats with natural gas were to reduce its consumption by an average of 15 percent, this would result in annual gas savings of almost 40 terawatt hours. This corresponds to the annual gas consumption of around three million average private households with gas heating and thus almost the number of households in the state of Hesse. In the future, the heat pump will also play an increasingly central role in the heating sector.
When it comes to electricity, transparency is particularly important - because you can make targeted savings if you know how your own consumption is made up. Digitization is the keyword here. To do this, we have smart, digital solutions that visualize power consumption and break it down by device class. So you know directly where the adjusting screws are.
It makes perfect sense to intelligently use the battery capacity that is already available in the e-car as part of a holistic energy management system.The technology can be perfectly combined with a solar system: In the future, the solar power charged into the car can be used not only as driving power, but also for your own home, for example when the sun is not shining. As E.ON, we have just started a pilot project with private households in cooperation with BMW. We want to find out how the families use bidirectional charging in their everyday life in order to develop future solutions for the intelligent home of the future.
This is also a very exciting future vision for bidirectional charging. In the future, the e-car could participate in the electricity market, for example by charging the battery when it is cheap and making it available to the grid when the price rises. Participation in the control energy market is also conceivable in the future. This means that the intelligently controlled e-car battery can absorb or release energy and thus compensate for unplanned fluctuations in consumption or feed-in to the grid - the customer would then receive payment for this service. If you imagine such solutions with many thousands of vehicles, it is a powerful and useful lever. Because such a network of many e-car batteries finally offers the possibility of storing and distributing large amounts of electricity in a decentralized, controllable manner.
The challenge with such projects is that - unlike with a single-family house - we usually talk about several charging points that have to be planned comprehensively. The activation of the boxes or the electricity bill are less of a problem than the question of intelligent use of the existing grid connection through smart load management, especially in existing buildings. We have already successfully carried out test projects for this in the past. The task now is to offer a suitable product for the broader market in the future. In addition to new construction, our focus will primarily be on the more demanding retrofitting of existing buildings. With our majority stake in the young company GridX, we also have the right digital solution in the field of intelligent load management.
On the one hand, our mobility must become cleaner, on the other hand, the means of transport must be networked more intelligently, especially in metropolitan regions. But we also have to be honest in the debate: Not everyone lives in the city, and not everyone can do their daily trips with the "public" or the e-scooter. Many people are still dependent on the car, and here an electric car that is charged with green electricity is already a very climate-friendly solution.