Axpo wants to work sustainably in all its strategic and operational activities and along the entire value chain. Our goal is to remain Switzerland's leading energy company in the area of sustainability. Sustainability is more than just a buzzword for Axpo.
The Sustainable Development Goals adopted by the United Nations in 2015 are to be implemented by energy companies by 2030. Axpo is at the forefront: Christian Capello, Sustainability Manager at Axpo, is working in a CIGRE working group to develop best practice guidelines for the industry that can be applied in all 193 UN member states.
The focus of Axpo’s commitment to sustainability is the business itself and all related activities. However, Axpo is also part of the Swiss economy and Swiss society. Based on this broad understanding of sustainability, Axpo is committed to the following six fields of action and is working to achieve the targets set for each one.
The challenge: Ensuring the long-term success of the business is a priority. The key megatrends of “decarbonisation”, “decentralisation” and “digitalisation” are fundamentally transforming the energy market. Axpo must find answers to this transformation. The challenge, however, is the limited availability of financial resources. Due to the substantial production capacities at Axpo’s disposal, we are heavily dependent on trends in wholesale prices, which affects the securing of refinancing for this capital-intensive business.
Axpo’s approach: The available investment capital will be used for further growth in existing business areas that are not dependent on electricity prices. Furthermore, we will be focusing on strengthening our innovative capacity and driving forward digital transformation. This will increase efficiency in our existing business activities and gain us the capabilities we need to identify and successfully open up new areas of business. New approaches will be required in order to pool the various capabilities within Axpo and in our external partnerships in the most effective way possible.
The challenge: Climate change is one of the global challenges of our time, and the overwhelmingly negative consequences can only be countered by a global rethink and global action. Under the Paris Agreement of December 2015, the member states of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change commit to limiting man-made global warming to well below 2°C compared with preindustrial levels, the aim being to cap the increase at 1.5°C. Developed industrial nations such as Switzerland can play an exemplary role in achieving this goal.
Axpo’s approach: Axpo’s contribution involves the low greenhouse gas intensity of its production mix and boosting energy efficiency. The relevant possibilities for increasing energy efficiency lie in maintaining the production plants with the most up-to-date and most efficient technology, reducing energy losses on the distribution grids and making careful and efficient use of energy in its buildings. Axpo’s products and services also help its customers to improve their own energy efficiency and promote decarbonisation.
The challenge: In today’s globalised world, supply chains are complex and there are often few opportunities for influencing downstream suppliers and their own suppliers in particular.
Axpo’s approach: To do justice to its understanding of sustainable corporate governance, Axpo creates a binding basis on which its business partners can engage with their own corporate responsibility. Axpo achieves this by means of its Code for Business Partners.
The challenge: Energy systems are in the process of transformation throughout Europe. The number of decentralised elements is increasing, the passive consumer is transforming into a discerning customer and “prosumer” and, due to changing customer needs and ever-sinking costs, renewable energy is booming. At the same time, state subsidies for renewable energy with fixed feed-in tariffs are being replaced with market-driven funding, or even abolished outright in many European countries. The upshot of these regulatory changes is that investors in new plants are increasingly exposed to the risk of changing wholesale prices. As renewable energy volumes are increased, the volatile electricity production associated with them must also be adaptable in line with demand. This is making electricity storage technologies ever more important.
Axpo’s approach: Axpo is helping through various business activities to reshape the energy system. In Switzerland, Axpo is the leading producer of renewable energy. Furthermore, its flexible hydro power plants create the capacity needed to balance out volatile electricity production. When it acquired the wind farm developer Volkswind in 2015 and photovoltaic developer Urbasolar in 2019, Axpo strengthened its activities in the development of renewable energy generation, such as onshore wind farms in Germany and France and large-scale solar facilities, primarily in France. These acquisitions also enlarged Axpo’s own renewable energy portfolio in Europe outside Switzerland.
As well as building and operating its own plants, Axpo is positioning itself as one of the Europe’s leading marketers of electricity from renewable energy sources. The customer portfolios it manages chiefly comprise wind and photovoltaic energy and are spread right across Europe. Axpo offers investors in renewable energy individual and long-term power purchase agreements (PPAs), thereby enabling the construction of new plants which are not subsidised by a fixed feed-in remuneration. These PPAs give investors planning certainty, particularly if they lack expertise in marketing electricity. Institutional investors such as pension funds and other investment funds are increasingly being joined by large corporations which, under various initiatives, are committed to achieving 100% renewable electricity supply (one example being the RE-100 Initiative).
Axpo is responding to the trend towards increasingly decentralised and intelligent elements in the energy system through its subsidiary CKW and its sites in Italy and Spain, by developing and selling smart energy products. Products and services focusing on decentralised production and optimised consumption (photovoltaics, batteries, e-mobility), heat solutions and intelligent control are offered to private and commercial customers. Solutions to increase energy efficiency, for flexibility management and in the area of building technology are offered to business customers.
The challenge: As a responsible operator of power plants and infrastructure relevant to the supply of energy, Axpo views responsibility for people and the environment as one of its key tasks. The emphasis here is on the health and safety of our employees, our external contractors and the wider public.
The success and long-term continuance of Axpo as a going concern is based on the achievements, motivation and continuing development of its employees. The main challenges are successfully recruiting qualified employees, training them successfully and continuously throughout their professional lives, and retaining them by offering attractive terms of employment.
Axpo’s approach: Axpo has established a management system for occupational health and safety. This has been implemented on the basis of national guidelines (EKAS 6508), industry solutions and the occupational health and safety management system according to OHSAS 18001 and ISO 45001:2018. The core elements of the occupational health and safety management system are the definition of safety objectives, the operation of a safety organisation, systematic hazard identification and risk assessment, and ultimately the implementation of improvement measures and monitoring of their success.
Axpo also seeks to achieve a high level of employee satisfaction, particularly at times when it is focusing on new business areas and services, because this is a prerequisite for good performance and a driver of innovation. The key to this is the development of a highly diverse range of skills within the company. This is promoted at Axpo through a broad range of training and education courses. As a modern employer, Axpo is also committed to gender equality. To this end, it has implemented appropriate measures in the areas of recruitment, communication, talent management and succession planning.
The challenge: As a public-sector enterprise, Axpo has a particular duty to demonstrate a commitment to society as well. Besides providing and operating a reliable energy supply infrastructure, it must also make meaningful contributions in other areas.
Axpo’s approach: For Axpo, credible commitment is based on open and honest dialogue with all stakeholders and on setting down roots in the regions where it its located. In this respect, Axpo focuses on the transparent and politically neutral communication of knowledge on all aspects of energy at its visitor centres and power plants, a comprehensive annual reporting suite on all sustainability topics of relevance to Axpo, and support for over 200 different organisations, institutions and projects which are committed to culture, the environment or young and disabled sporting talent.