"The energy transition is an opportunity for all of us!"

Interview with Sebastian Ebert, authorized signatory of Südkabel GmbH

Sebastian Ebert, authorized signatory of Südkabel GmbH
Sebastian Ebert, authorized signatory of Südkabel GmbH

Anyone who only points to potential risks of the energy transition thereby obscures the enormous potential that a successful transformation can mean for Germany as a business location, believes Sebastian Ebert, authorized signatory of Südkabel GmbH, which specializes in the production of high and ultra-high voltage cable systems, as are indispensable for the numerous upcoming corridor projects.

Economic Forum: Mr. Ebert, as the sole German manufacturer of high and extra-high voltage cable systems, your company is situated at a critical juncture in the energy transition. What is the current status?

Sebastian Ebert: In terms of expanding and reinforcing the transmission networks, we are still relatively at the beginning in Germany. Initial corridors are just in the execution phase, while in the context of projects already awarded, we are starting with the production of corresponding HVDC components. These will then be used in the construction of the A-Nord corridor from Lower Saxony to North Rhine-Westphalia, after we have already delivered over 60 kilometers of HVDC cable this year for the construction of the interconnector from Ireland to Wales. Furthermore, we are currently undergoing the appropriate prequalification procedures to be able to supply future projects in the coming years.

Südkabel dry cable jointing technology
A successful energy transition can sustainably strengthen the economic location of Germany, according to Sebastian Ebert
South Cable - Loading a High Voltage Cable Drum
Loading a High Voltage Cable Drum

Economic Forum: How well are the political decision-makers and the private sector actors prepared for the upcoming tasks?

Sebastian Ebert: In the course of numerous discussions, we were clearly able to gain the impression that the politics has indeed recognized the actual challenges. This was also evident during a visit by the Federal Minister of Economics to our company. However, it must be clear to all participants and to the general public that such a profound transformation cannot be managed ad hoc within a few years – yet investments must be made today and human as well as material capacities must be created in order to successfully accomplish and shape this change in the long term. To effectively utilize the resources of private sector actors like Südkabel GmbH, certain accompanying political measures are needed, for instance in the form of guarantee securities, sustainable innovation promotion, or also by creating better planning reliability – because especially in the high-voltage network, there is already a very high demand for cable systems today, which, however, needs to be more specifically defined. Even under optimal conditions, the energy transition will occupy us for several more decades – we must always be aware of this.

Economic Forum: What impact have the crisis years since 2020 had on the further progress of the energy transition and the business activities of Südkabel?

Sebastian Ebert: The far-reaching delays in the implementation and awarding of projects that occurred during the pandemic also posed significant challenges to our company, as operations on almost all construction sites suddenly came to a standstill. This certainly set the energy transition in Germany back by one or two years. In contrast, the war in Ukraine has made it clear to all people the enormous danger associated with the dependence on fossil fuels and that we need to push forward the energy transition even faster and more decisively in this context – from the construction of new wind and solar parks to the switch to heat pumps to the reinforcement of distribution networks, in which lies the basic condition for all other measures. After the Corona dry spell, a double steep upturn in our industry followed, which now challenges all participants to create the necessary capacities as quickly as possible.

Südkabel - Testing Field
Politics has recognized the urgency of the energy transition, Sebastian Ebert is convinced
Südkabel - Underground Cable Systems
Underground cable systems, compared to overhead lines, increase the acceptance of power transmission lines among the general population

Economic Forum: Will we actually be able to overcome these challenges?

Sebastian Ebert: It would be a big mistake to only focus on the possible risks and dangers in light of this change. Because the energy transition offers a great opportunity for Germany. As a mid-sized system provider that offers a wide range of services in the market, from manufacturing the necessary components to actively participating in the implementation of corridor projects, we want to actively shape this change true to our conviction "Made in Germany for Germany" – and thus sustainably strengthen our economic location.