In partnership with Iveco we open our first LNG fueling station for heavy trucks
The M5BAT, our modular utility-scale battery enters service
We enter into a partnership with BP to produce green hydrogen at BP’s facility in Lingen, Germany
Innovations Make us Fit for the Future
We believe that three trends – decarbonization, decentralization, and digitalization – will alter the energy world in decisive ways. At Uniper, we’re working to shape these trends and to make use of them for our business. Innovations play a key role in this effort. For us, this is about a the development of new business models that support the advancement of our existing business. We’re conducting many innovation projects, some of which are featured in this report.
As the Paris Climate Agreement indicates, the global community has reached a consensus on decarbonization in many regions. But the agreement’s ambitious objectives can only be achieved if carbon emissions are systematically reduced. All of us will have to do our part, and all sectors of the economy will have to be involved. The ongoing growth of renewables in power generation is crucial: if the demand for power remains stable or declines, an ever-increasing proportion of it will be met by renewables, which will reduce carbon emissions. But that’s only one side of the story. Wind and solar power is intermittent and not always available in sufficient quantity. To ensure an uninterrupted supply of power throughout the year and to balance out the fluctuations in renewables output, the energy system needs innovative flexibility and storage solutions as well as flexible, efficient power plants. Secure and Reliable Energy Supply
In partnership with RWTH Aachen University, we’re testing the M5BAT, a unique hybrid storage system consisting of five different types of batteries, in real network operations.
Surplus renewable power can be transformed and stored as gas in a process called power-to-gas (P2G). We gained knowledge from testing P2G equipment for several years at two facilities in Germany, Falkenhagen and Hamburg-Reitbrook. Climate Change
Furthermore, we signed a cooperative agreement with BP to use renewables-based P2G technology in refinery processes and in the production of hydrogen.
We’re also active in alternative fuels: Liqvis, a wholly owned Uniper subsidiary, has opened three liquefied natural gas (LNG) fueling stations for heavy trucks, two in Germany and one in France. Looking into the future, cleaning-burning LNG is an attractive alternative fuel for the transport industry. Resource Efficiency
By-products from power generation – CO2 and heat – offer additional potential for tapping new markets. Over the medium to long term, our power plants could capture CO2 and deliver it to nearby industrial enterprises along with power and heat. CO2 can be processed and used as an alternative carbon source in a variety of industrial applications.
The energy transition isn’t just confined to energy companies. Increasingly, it’s encompassing households and industrial enterprises and therefore often takes place in the distribution grid. Power, heat, and mobility are converging; energy is being converted to different forms for storage and later use. These trends are increasing the demand for innovative solutions, such as technologies for storing surplus renewable power as gas (P2G) or heat (power-to-heat, P2H) as well as e-mobility products and services.
Shamrock, one of our power stations in Germany, provides innovative P2H solutions. It uses renewable power to generate heat for a nearby district heat system. Our P2G units in Falkenhagen and Hamburg-Reitbrook are other examples of energy transformation and storage.
The energy industry is going digital too. Solar panels, heating systems, and home appliances have become smart: they can communicate with each other and are capable of intelligent control. Digital technology could also make it possible for the batteries of electric vehicles to help balance out the supply of and demand for electricity. But digitalization not only enhances our efficiency. It could also lead to the creation of new business models for our company. We therefore analyze this trend as well and evaluate how it could affect our business and our opportunities.
We’re working to digitalize and further simplify the interface with our business customers. We’re also using digital technology to automate and streamline a variety of processes at our generation fleet, from health and safety to maintenance and repair.
Our current digitalization projects include:
- uniper-direkt.de, a digital sales platform for small and medium-sized enterprises whose features include fully automated quotes for power and gas products, contract signup, and credit check.
- web-based after-sales processes that customers can use to manage their contract; together with our sales platform, this creates an end-to-end digital experience for our business customers.
- a pilot project for a virtual 3D health-and-safety (H&S) walk: at Heyden power station in Germany, we’re using virtual-reality technology to digitalize our safety training; this project has the potential to make this and other H&S tasks and processes more efficient.
Innovation across our company
Innovation isn’t limited to a single department. It take places across the Uniper world. As part of our realignment, in 2016 we created an Innovation department. It identifies, evaluates, and develops new business ideas companywide. It focuses in particular on large, scalable business ideas and tests them in the marketplace to determine whether they can and should be continued by our operating units. Currently, these are primarily business ideas that are closely related to our core business. We aim for our innovative business models to demonstrate that they’re viable in the marketplace and that they ultimately can become profitable. Our Innovation department’s budget totaled around €12.5 million in 2016. Our pure research and development costs under International Accounting Standards amounted to €5 million. How much we budget for an individual business idea depends on our assessment of its opportunities and risks. In addition, numerous other innovation activities are under way across our company. Their purpose is typically to improve our existing business operations in areas like IT.
Our innovativeness is fostered by our highly diverse and international workforce, which brings together people from 63 different countries. Our workforce also represents a good combination of fresh ideas and valuable experience. We place a strong emphasis on collaboration across all departments of our company and on diverse teams. Many ideas are first communicated via Ping, our companywide social media network, and then assigned to a working group.
Selected figures were independently audited and are identified by the “audited” check symbol .
Qualitative content related to the Management Approach was also part of the assurance.