The CEO of Germany's largest energy supplier Eon, Leonhard Birnbaum, sees Europe's competitiveness endangered as a result of the energy crisis. "We are losing ground to the USA and Asia," he told journalists in Essen on Tuesday evening. In his opinion, the switch to liquefied natural gas (LNG) by ship will mean that energy prices will not return to pre-war levels. European society must therefore "roll up its sleeves now" and fight for its prosperity, said Birnbaum.
The manager renewed his appeal to continue saving energy and not to feel safe. At the same time, more attractive investment incentives for international investors are needed to advance the green transformation.
"The competition for international capital is becoming more difficult," said Birnbaum. This applies to Eon and Europe. He cited the US Inflation Reduction Act as a positive example. According to the manager, with the subsidy program to combat inflation, the USA has created an energy and economic policy framework "that many would wish for in the current situation in Europe".
Investments should be worthwhile again
Birnbaum called for the energy transition to be promoted in particular. 2023 must bring new impetus "above all for the right regulatory incentives so that investments in energy infrastructure in particular are worthwhile again". The Eon boss called for a reduction in bureaucracy. "Because what good is the goal of approving a wind turbine in Germany in ten months if we need ten years for the line that will transmit the electricity generated from it?"
Eon wants to invest 22 billion euros in the expansion of the network infrastructure across Europe by 2026. But this requires suitable investment conditions, Birnbaum warned. 2022 made it clear that security of supply should not be taken for granted. Against this background, the state interventions were inevitable and correct. But he warned against falling back into "an ill-considered belief in the state."
Eon supplies around 14 million private and business customers in Germany. These include around 1.5 million gas customers. In addition to energy sales, the operation of distribution networks is the other major pillar in the group's core business.