Explorative Untersuchung zu Erfolgspotentialen bei neugegründeten Stadtwerken

Eine Sondierungsstudie zur kommunalen Energieversorgung

  • Publications 18.10.2018

Municipal utilities ("Stadtwerke") play a central role for the energy transition. On the one hand, they ensure well over half of the supply of electricity, gas and heat in Germany; on the other hand, municipal utilities have a special position in the area of tension between politics, business and private households due to their municipal roots. But with regard to the question of the success of municipal utilities, there is currently still a research gap.

The presented study was jointly prepared by the Wuppertal Institute and BLUBERRIES GmbH. It deals with selected fields of action in which an influence on the business success of newly founded municipal utilities can be assumed. The objectives of re-municipalisation are used as a framework and four specific fields of action are brought to the focus. The study focuses on questions concerning the economic success of newly founded municipal utilities  and the achievement of their objectives. We used the classical approach of success factor research. The aim of this study is to formulate initial statements on how the assumed fields of action are and on the measures of success for newly founded municipal utilities.

Cooperation and various forms of collaboration in the start-up stage play a very important role regarding the success of newly established municipal utilities. Newly established municipal utility companies usually attach great importance to sustainable business relationships with local companies, which makes a significant contribution to public value. In particular, well-developed business strategies in the fields of renewable energies, distribution, grid operation, sales and diversification foster the implementation of the corporate objectives with regard to resilience and sustainability. The rather average assessment of the relevance of resilience regarding the development of a smart distribution grid is an indication that the regulatory framework would have to be changed to make investments in this area more attractive.

Based on an online survey, the most important results for the four fields of action (cooperation, digitisation, resilience and social responsibility) that have been taken into focus can be summarised as follows:

  1. Horizontal cooperations in the founding phase have positive effects on the improvement of economic success and profitability and are a specific characteristic of the German Stadtwerke landscape.
  2. The focus on resilience, sustainability and climate protection as central values of the municipal utility contributes to the achievement of the strategic goals of the newly founded municipal utility and should be an integral part of the company's mission statement.
  3. The offer of smart meters to increase customer transparency, to improve customer benefit and to enhance the management oft the distribution grid can be classified as a success factor and helps municipal utilities  in their positive corporate development not only in the start-up phase.
  4. The explicit perception of social responsibility has a positive effect on the company's success.

On the basis of a larger sample, it would have to be tested in future whether and to what extent the described trends (which result from the online survey) and the explorative hypotheses can be scientifically verified within the framework of a confirmatory research approach.


Kurt Berlo, Christian Herr, Oliver Wagner, Michael Companie:

Explorative Untersuchung zu Erfolgspotentialen bei neugegründeten Stadtwerken

Eine Sondierungsstudie zur kommunalen Energieversorgung - Ergebnisse einer Befragung bei neugegründeten Stadtwerken im Energiebereich

Wuppertal, 2018

(Wuppertal Report no. 16)

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