Talk Sustainability: Interview with Lars Maehl from Vattenfall
Mr. Maehl, which sustainability goals has Vattenfall set for itself and what measures are you taking to achieve them?
Vattenfall has the goal to make fossil-free living possible within one generation. Therefore, we invest in our own generation mix in renewable energy and accelerate the phase-out of coal use. Additionally, we support our customers and business partners by offering climate-neutral solutions and develop new technologies, for instance in the steel and cement industry. We see electrification as the way to climate neutrality and are driving electromobility forward by establishing an international charging network system.
Will there be enough electricity from renewable energy to meet our greenhouse gas reduction targets? How efficient or controllable are renewable plants at high loads and for bulk consumers?
The EU has already researched and confirmed that an affordable reconstruction to renewable energy is possible. Therefore, we are convinced that we can reach our goals. Performance means mostly that we have energy when we need it. As of right now there are plants that are qualified for such performances but in the long term we need more efficient storage.
In which way does Vattenfall engage in battery materials?
It is very important to us to pay attention to sustainability when it comes to battery materials. Where are they from, how are they produced and under which conditions? These questions are absolutely justified from a sustainability perspective and have to be asked for any raw material that is sourced. Although Vattenfall isn’t involved in the battery production itself we ensure that our suppliers fulfill certain sustainability criteria.
It’s not enough to produce sufficient energy – it also has to be available when needed. Therefore, we need a faster expansion of the power grid. Many times it fails because it is not accepted by residents. Will the network expansion be the bottleneck of the energy transition?
The government has already discussed this problem and is making progress. The federal governments in Bavaria and Baden-Württemberg recently agreed that the expansion of the power grid, for example, should be increasingly implemented underground. In my opinion the grid expansion won’t be a bottleneck.
Which changes have you noticed in the behavior of your customers in the recent years?
The topics sustainability and climate neutrality are becoming more and more important. When looking at recent years, we can see that our corporate customers focus even more on climate neutrality than our household customers. It’s evident that this trend is going to progress in the next years. One reason for this is the price development. Renewable energies are now competitive, which promotes climate-neutral expansion.
How can consumers verify whether the electricity they buy is based on renewable energy?
With technical tools corporate customers have the option to receive a quarter-hourly verification that the energy that is, for example, produced in wind power plants is used in their own business. This is called Power Purchase Agreement (PPA).
How can each individual contribute to a sustainable future with her or his energy consumption?
Everybody can contribute to more sustainability. The first step is to save energy and avoid emissions. Additionally, you can buy from businesses that promote sustainability and take this aspect into consideration when making a purchase decision.
Mr. Maehl, thank you very much for the interview.