E.ON’s CEO regards Energiewende no longer in hand of politicians but steered by customers
Germany’s energy transition is no longer a political project that can be steered by the government as independent customers have started pushing ahead with the project themselves, E.ON’s CEO Johannes Teyssen said at a conference in Berlin. “The times of paternalistic energy and climate policy are over,” Teyssen said at business daily Handelsblatt’s annual energy industry conference. Digitalisation and technological progress in the energy industry allowed customers to organise their power supply individually and become independent of political or corporate control. The future of energy would “no longer be made in party headquarters, ministries, government agencies” or company headquarters, Teyssen explained.
The German government could not induce more energy transition any longer, nor was US President Donald Trump’s administration able to derail it, he added. Customers were going to decide how they want to balance low power prices and climate protection and all companies and politicians could do was to provide counsel. “Affordable and decentralised storages can change energy structures of the future more than the most ambitious resolutions at climate conferences,” Teyssen said. A key policy guideline for advancing climate protection would be a uniform CO2-price tag as “no other measure” could achieve a greater emissions reduction at lower costs in the power sector, he added.
William M. Colton, vice president of US oil and gas corporation Exxon Mobil, said at the same conference that Germany’s Energiewende was an example of a top-down approach for climate protection that had caused power costs to rise. The US, on the other hand, had achieved an even greater emissions reduction at lower costs by an energy “renaissance” based on natural gas that had been achieved by the innovation capacity of freely operating companies. An “aggressive” approach to climate protection prevalent in many European countries could hamper the long-term growth prospects of the region, Colton warned.