Foreword by our CEO

A race against time

For those of us based in Switzerland, the alarming images of 2022 are etched in our memory. Unprecedented levels of glacier melt caused the Gebidem Dam to spill over, while Lake Salanfe, barely 80 kilometers away, almost dried out completely. Our glaciers lost 6% of their total mass in summer 2022 alone, compared to around 2% in the preceding years. These ice caps, once thought to be eternal, are disappearing before our very eyes – and even more rapidly than models had previously indicated.

In Switzerland’s neighbouring countries, too, climate change had a devastating impact. In recent months, tap water has been cut off in more than 500 French communes due to drought and inhabitants are forced to rely on tankers for their water supply. Last year, large wildfires broke out across France, destroying forests and threatening residential areas. In Italy, flooding in regions like Veneto and Tuscany caused damage to infrastructure, homes and businesses. Large areas of Spain grappled with desertification, contributing to the loss of fertile soil, vegetation and agricultural productivity. Throughout the countries in which Alpiq operates, erratic weather patterns caused by climate change have a detrimental effect on human health and safety, agriculture and national economies.

Fauna, flora and wildlife are also having to readjust as climate change also lays siege to the biodiversity that is so crucial for our ecosystem. As temperatures and precipitation patterns change, many species are struggling to adapt or are migrating to more suitable habitats. 

Twofold purpose requires bold decision-making

In the face of this seemingly relentless advance of climate change, the easy option would be to give up hope. Yet, as the United Nations report “Climate Change 2022: Mitigation of Climate Change” showed, it is still technologically and economically possible to limit global warming to 1.5°C by 2100 in line with the Paris Climate Agreement. The energy sector has a key role to play here, above all by achieving the huge reduction in greenhouse gas emissions needed to achieve these goals.

Alpiq is aware of this responsibility. Our self-declared purpose as a sustainable energy business is to ‘contribute to a better climate and an improved security of supply’. These twin objectives can, on occasion, come into conflict. Our main activity is producing the electricity needed to improve the security of supply, but this in itself comes with direct and indirect greenhouse gas emissions. What works best to ensure security of supply is not always what works best for our planet. In addition, it should not be forgotten that the planned measures must be affordable for Alpiq as a company. Affordability is the basis for sustainable entrepreneurship and investments in sustainable technologies and solutions.

And yet we do not regard this as an ‘either/or’ question. It is our duty to seek solutions that maximize our potential to achieve all objectives. We do not have all the answers, but we are undertaking a journey to find them, by addressing the challenges head-on, by taking bold decisions and by working together closely with our stakeholders across society – customers, partners, investors, communities and environmental associations – and between businesses, industries and countries.

An approach driven by our values

Alpiq is well-positioned to minimize the climate impact of our power production thanks to our use of renewable energies such as a hydropower, photovoltaic and wind power. Moreover, we are now introducing a new value-chain-based operating model that will enable us to react even more quickly, efficiently and sustainably to developments and leverage our collective know-how and effort.

We will strive to fulfil our purpose by adhering closely to the values that distinguish us. This means acting with empathy and honesty, cherishing integrity and trusting and celebrating our diversity. It means collaborating closely, learning and growing together, and taking collective ownership and responsibility. It means challenging the status quo and showing creativity as we focus on achieving lasting and positive outcomes.

Above all, it means being committed to transparency. Our task is to be open, to inform, to participate in the debate and to be accountable. It is only by ensuring that our stakeholders have access to clear and comprehensible information that we can ensure the trust that is fundamental to our relationships with them.

These are early steps on our journey

In this spirit of transparency, it is important that we acknowledge here that we are still taking early steps on our journey towards creating a more sustainable Alpiq. We are currently in the process of examining our approach to sustainability by asking ourselves questions like: What measures are we taking? Why are we taking them? How do we track their effectiveness? The fact that this is ‘work in progress’ is reflected in the pages of this 2022 report. We have included specific metrics aligned with our sustainability goals for some of the topics presented where these were available for the reporting year 2022. For other topics, the metrics were not in place and we have indicated what considerations we made.

Already in the first few months of 2023, we have introduced mechanisms to improve our ability to track and report on our efforts. We have established ESG as an integral component of our strategy and risk management, and selected ESG factors are being integrated as key performance indicators in our corporate management and reporting. The outcome of these efforts will be reflected in next year’s report. We’ve also listened to the input you, our stakeholders, provided that our previous sustainability reports relied too heavily on data and failed to explain what we were striving to achieve. We hope that, in this year’s report, we’ve provided a fuller picture of our activities.

We are aware that there are more steps to take. Importantly, however, we have embarked on the journey – and we are clear about the direction to take. We are committed to building a sustainable company that minimizes the climate impact of its energy management while continuing to make energy available wherever and whenever it’s needed. The planet and society are facing massive challenges, and Alpiq is determined to be part of the solution.


Antje Kanngiesser