Saturday, 1 November 2008

EON CSR discussion with Paul Golby

Conversation with Paul Golby,

Chief Executive, E.ON UK

There is clearly a strong emphasis on climate change in this Review. How far does this issue influence your business agenda?

There is a generally increasing scientific and political consensus about the risks posed by climate change and the need to take action. The energy sector has an important role to play in addressing this issue. Equally, there needs to be a balance between concern for the environment and our customers’ need for light, warmth and power – reconciling the objective of reducing carbon dioxide emissions while providing a safe, secure and affordable supply of electricity is the big challenge facing us.

So for us, tackling climate change isn’t something that’s tacked onto our agenda – it’s at the heart of our business and this is reflected strongly in this Review. By that, I mean we are adopting a radically different approach to energy, both how we make it and how our customers use it. In other words, we are on a mission to change energy for the better.

As regards climate change, what are the specific issues facing the energy industry?

I think there are three key elements linked together.We need to secure reliable supplies of energy in a way that minimises our impact on the environment and at a cost that is acceptable to society. So we are taking our customers with us on our journey to change energy. The issue isn’t just one of awareness, because over the past year, climate change has been so much in the news and on our TVs. It’s also about engaging directly with our customers and showing how we can work together to make a real difference.

Encouraging our customers to waste less energy means they will pay less and will ultimately emit less carbon dioxide. But we shouldn’t underestimate the size of this task.We know the decisions we take today are going to impact customers and the environment for the next 40–50 years, but that’s a very difficult message to get across to a society that is increasingly energy dependent.

What can E.ON UK itself do to minimise its impact on the environment?

We are taking the lead both in reducing our company’s carbon footprint and helping our customers to do the same. So we’re workinghard to change energy on a number of fronts – the way we make it, the way we as a company and our employees use it, and the way our customers perceive and use it.

In terms of the way we make energy, we are already investing heavily in low-carbon energy solutions, such as renewables and efficient gas-fired generation, and we have announced a number of new build projects that will eventually help replace our ageing coal-fired power
stations.We aim to reduce the carbon intensity of our emissions by 10% by 2012. This builds on the existing achievement of reducing carbon intensity by 20% since 1990.

Internally, we are taking action to be more efficient in our energy usage and we have already committed to a significant reduction in the carbon dioxide emissions resulting from our business activities other than from electricity generation.We are actively encouraging our employees to be more energy conscious and we’ve appointed low-carbon champions across each of our businesses.

For our customers, we are offering and testing a range of products and services that help them make the most of the energy they buy from us. Two key areas we are exploring, for example, are microgeneration and Smart Metering, and we are providing a number of solutions for home and business.

How much emphasis do you place on research and development?

It is vital. If we are truly to change the face of energy, we must be innovative and E.ON UK is at the forefront in developing newtechnology solutions.We are one of the few energy companies with its own in-house R&D facilities and we are also involved with anumber of the UK’s leading research institutions such as the EnergyTechnology Institute. Through our parent company, we also haveaccess to the latest R&D developments across Europe, including the E.ON Energy Institute.

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