E.On, ABB and Ericsson collaborate on sustainability research and innovation

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Communications provider Ericsson, major utility E.On and automation and power electronics group ABB, will collaborate on “smart solutions” in energy efficiency, mobility and solar energy.

The group signed a cooperation agreement in Sweden this week. They seek to create a range of “innovative products and services”, aimed at reducing costs for a number of industries while also benefiting their customers, Ericsson said in a statement on Thursday.

Ultimately, the trio wants to accelerate progress in energy and operational efficiency, targeting the areas of commercial real estate, transport, solar energy as well as in data centres, which have been the focus of several major companies’ sustainability efforts in recent years, including Google and Apple, which have both pledged to use renewable energy to power their vast data networks. Amazon also said in June that it is building an 80MW solar farm in Virginia to power a data centre.

Ericsson, perhaps best known for its mobile phones, said the cooperative efforts will be based in Brunnshög, Sweden, where the three aim to build a centre for innovation, research and urban planning. Brunnshög Energi, a subsidiary of E.On that focuses on start-up technologies, will launch and products that emerge from the centre.

In commercial real estate, ABB’s automation platforms will perform energy management in buildings, providing data to Stockholm-headquartered Ericsson’s “cloud-based service enablement platforms” that will then make the data available to E.On. The utility will then be able to provide the client, the building’s owner, occupier or operator, with information, apps and services to better manage their energy and efficiency.

Similarly, in mobility and in solar, the three companies will combine their relative strengths to collect data, analyse it and create scalable commercial ideas and solutions to accelerate innovation and cost-reduction. ABB is already a well-known name in both areas. The company supplies inverters and power electronics to the solar industry and earlier this month announced a collaboration with tech giant Microsoft on vehicle charging infrastructure.  

The transition to “sustainable and customer-focused energy solutions” will require more collaborative efforts between stakeholders, including links with academia, E.On’s director of business innovation, Fredrik Rosenqvist, said.

“ABB and Ericsson are two strong partners and together we have the opportunity to develop new ideas and products that are fully in line with the rapid development in the rest of the world,” he said.

“I am convinced that it will be important for the transition that is happening right now towards more sustainable and customer-focused energy solutions. This transition requires more cross-border partnerships with academia and leading innovative companies”.

In 2014, E.On began a major process of restructuring that appeared to stake the company’s future on renewables. E.On spun off its conventional generation, energy trading and upstream activities into a new company, and retained the existing company as a dedicated renewable energy business.

The company’s chief executive Johannes Teysen said the move was “necessary to respond to dramatically altered global energy markets, technical innovation, and more diverse customer expectations”.

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