Umeå Energi wants to be a community developer and positive force in the Umeå region's sustainable development. Our mission is to help the region, businesses, and individuals to be able to live and work more. To achieve this, we work together with our partners and customers.
Sustainability has long been a central part of the business for Umeå Energi. We offer exclusively renewable and locally produced electricity, and our district heating is one of the most important prerequisites for the Umeå region to become completely climate neutral. We are constantly working with partnerships to find new solutions that can contribute to increased sustainability, such as enabling the expansion of renewable energy sources, an electricity grid that creates the conditions for increased electrification and digitization, and by helping our customers to reduce consumption and make sustainable choices in their everyday lives. Through our active sustainability work, Umeå Energi also wants to be an important partner to both the civil society and business community in the region.
Why is it important for Umeå Energi to work with sustainability?
"Sustainability is the great challenge of our time and we all have a responsibility to take the challenges that our overall lifestyle and resource utilisation has created seriously. As an energy and communications company, our business affects the world around us and people to a large extent, but it also offers great opportunities to push for sustainable choices and changing behaviours. We can be an important driver in the necessary change," says Jan Ridfeldt, CEO of Umeå Energi.
"As our region grows, it places increased demands on us to constantly be at the forefront with our infrastructure and service offerings in order to enable the transition. At the same time, our customers have high expectations of customised offers with low carbon footprints, innovative solutions, and digital interfaces.
What do you hope to achieve together with the other companies and organisations in the collaboration platform Viable Business Hub?
"An important part of Umeå Energi's sustainability work is close collaboration with customers and partners. In order to bring about real change at a regional level – and also contribute to the necessary movement at a global level – we need to do it together, with joint efforts and shared knowledge, says Magnus Stenvall, who is responsible for strategic partnerships & collaborations and one of the initiators of the initiative.
"These are not issues that you solve on your own. The Sustainable Industrial Environments of the Future and the Viable Business Hub provide us with a very strong platform for jointly developing new concepts and methods that contribute to sustainability, climate-neutral innovations, and increased knowledge for everyone: ourselves, our partners, our customers, and our suppliers."
How can sustainability become an important part of the company and the business?
"Sustainability becomes a necessity to succeed in tomorrow's business. And the broad group of industrial companies in this collaboration means that we can make a big difference together. We have a broad approach, but at the same time we want to be as concrete as possible in the work; everything from keeping track of our emissions and working with value creation and sustainable products and services to working to ensure that the staff is doing well and are treated equally. The whole time, with a business perspective in focus," says Magnus Stenvall.
"For example, Umeå Energi's business can no longer be described as selling kilowatt hours. Our mission is instead to help the region, businesses, and individuals to be able to live and work more sustainably for a reduced carbon footprint. That is the obvious focus of our business today and tomorrow," explains Jan Ridfeldt.
What successes have you had so far in your sustainability work?
"We are investing in, for example, the development of different offers for solar electricity to encourage more people to participate in the energy transition by producing their own green electricity. A few years ago, Umeå Energi was the first in Sweden to offer solar photovoltaic rental. Both individuals and companies can today choose to either buy or rent ready-made photovoltaic packages from us. If there is a surplus from the self-produced electricity, we buy it back. Our vision is that every suitable roof in Umeå will be used as a production facility for green electricity," says Jan Ridfeldt.
Another example is the development of the electricity grid; to make it modern, flexible and robust so that we can meet the increased electrification of society. Increased electricity use has been identified as the most important transition strategy for, virtually all industries that currently use fossil fuels. But it requires both investment, innovation and the right skills. We have invested SEK 132 million in the electricity grid in 2019 and we have always been in line to replace our customers' old electricity meters with newer, smart, electricity meters that enable them to influence their own electricity use.
What are the important challenges that we can tackle together and find solutions?
"It could be sustainable energy solutions and optimizing energy flows, at an overall city-level or in smaller areas through so-called microgrids. We can contribute to digitisation and with access to data we can become better at analysing and providing new insights that contribute to the development of a sustainable future. Other examples include energy storage in real estate and production facilities, which also contributes to sustainable activities. And by listening to the needs of households and small businesses, we can also understand how we can best support and inspire a sustainable lifestyle," says Magnus Stenvall.