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Innovation Benchmark Energy Industry 2020

The new AXXCON Innovation Benchmark Energy Industry is published. As a management consultancy, we specialise in digital transformations. We conduct a study on the innovative ability of German energy supply companies every year.

EnBW, the top innovator – charging stations are now offered by all energy supply companies

A firework display of new services as a result of coronavirus? A pandemic-driven breakthrough in digitalisation? These frequently predicted developments cannot yet be substantiated by the 2020 Innovation Benchmark for the energy industry by the consulting firm AXXCON. The number of innovative services offered by German energy suppliers analysed in the study rose by 22 from 2019 to 2020 and by an additional two after the pandemic began, in the areas of home entertainment and regional public transport. In contrast, companies were particularly reluctant to offer new or even disruptive services in their core business during the coronavirus year. “Compared to previous years, innovation activity appears to have declined. Energy supply companies are pursuing follower or stay’n’wait strategies rather than launching truly new services on the market,” comments Stefan Jaschke, Partner at AXXCON and expert for the energy market. In view of the prevailing uncertainty, this is understandable, but a big hit will not be achieved in this way. Corona has given a boost to unsurprising topics such as online meter readings, electronic billing and customer portals. Jaschke: “These services are now offered by almost all of the energy supply companies analysed.”

For the annual study on the innovative activities of German energy supply companies, the externally visible range of innovative services and products from consulting apps, electromobility and new storage technologies to telephony and the Internet were compared. This was based on the current entries on the companies’ respective websites. The innovative services were surveyed once in spring and once in late summer 2020 in order to record the impact of coronavirus. A total of 28 German energy suppliers were analysed – from the major nationwide players to small and medium-sized municipal utilities. The latter were selected as examples to reflect the different sizes. The energy supply companies analysed in the study generate an annual turnover of around 128 billion euros. In total, around 305 billion euros are generated annually on the energy market in Germany.

Big players have caught up

The winner of this year’s comparison is EnBW with an annual turnover of 38.2 billion euros, followed by EWE in second place with 5.6 billion euros and EON in third place with 41.5 billion euros. This means that small regional energy suppliers play a much smaller role in the current ranking than in previous years, when Stadtwerke Münster was in first place alongside EON and Innogy and Stadtwerke Augsburg was in second place alongside EnBW in 2019. “Major players have expanded their service portfolio and caught up in the market,” explains Dr Bernard Richter, former Senior Manager at AXXCON. Nevertheless, size and corporate structures are still not mandatory prerequisites for an innovative range of services. He recommends that smaller energy supply companies communicate their services more strongly to the outside world and focus on their strong regional ties when developing new offerings – for example by cooperating with local companies.

New in the range of services: Stay Home Entertainment and local transport to order

The service offerings examined in the study were clustered into four categories: digitalisation, efficient energy use and generation, mobility and innovative services and sales strategies. A total of 69 innovative service offerings were identified as part of the study. Compared to the previous year, this number has increased significantly because the scope of the survey has been expanded. However, three categories in particular were newly established in 2020, two of which are driven by coronavirus: Stay Home Entertainment, which was offered by Stadtwerke Augsburg, and local transport on demand (Stadtwerke Münster, Stadtwerke Duisburg). The provision of coworking space (EnBW, Stadtwerke Düsseldorf, badenova) was already apparent in 2019 and has now been further expanded. Other developments in the current year: In the area of electromobility, almost all energy supply companies now have offers for public and private charging stations, and many also offer car power contracts. In addition to smart metering, energy advice and photovoltaics, power to heat – the offer of heat pumps – has also arrived on the market this year. Direct marketing following the expiry of the Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG) is now also being actively promoted. On the other hand, car sharing and smart home offers have declined. On average, the companies offer 26 of the 69 innovative services analysed. “This figure also shows that there is still a lot of room for improvement,” says Dr Richter.

For the “AXXCON Innovation Benchmark Energy Industry”, the range of services offered by 28 selected energy supply companies from May to September 2020 was compared. The results were compared with previous years. In comparison to 2019, when the energy giants Innogy and EON were in first place, it should be noted that RWE and EON have undergone a merger in which the RWE subsidiary Innogy was merged into EON, meaning that Innogy is no longer listed this year. Instead, RWE has moved back into the overview with a broader range of its own products.


AXXCON is an independent and 100% owner-managed management consultancy specialising in transformation. The focus is on the core areas of digital, IT and organisation. AXXCON has been successfully supporting large and medium-sized companies in the energy sector, banking and insurance, service sectors and industry in the implementation of their transformation projects for many years. For the sixth time in a row, AXXCON has been recognised by brand eins and Statista as one of the best consulting firms in Germany.

We look forward to presenting our results to you in a personal meeting. Please feel free to contact us. Stefan Jaschke is at your disposal as your contact person.

Publication of the press release:

Presseportal (published 28.10.2020)
energate messenger (published 28.10.2020)
Saarbrücker Zeitung (published 28.10.2020)
Braunschweiger Zeitung (published 28.10.2020)
ZfK Zeitung für kommunale Wirtschaft (published 28.10.2020)
Energie & Management (published 29.10.2020)