23. 6. 2021

CEZ Group Sustainability Report 2020

The CEZ Group 2020 Sustainability Report will provide you with non-financial information concerning CEZ Group in the reporting period of January 1, 2020, to December 31, 2020. It follows up on CEZ Group’s 2020 Annual Report and financial statements (both consolidated and unconsolidated) indicating its financial performance. It is structured based on the current sustainability strategy entitled Energy for the Future and its five priorities, to which UN Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs) have been assigned, and which we support.

Dear Readers,

The year 2020 will probably be long remembered as the “Covid Year”. I suppose none of us expected that after the shocking spring wave there would be only a brief respite, followed by further epidemic surges. It was a year full of strain, effort, exhaustion, and for some, unfortunately, sadness over the loss of a loved one. Nevertheless, moments of heroism, solidarity, and unbreakableness will shine through. Many such inspiring stories can be found in this Report thanks to the energy engineers from ČEZ—they are big-hearted. At the same time, let me highlight the daily efforts of my colleagues doing a great job despite the adverse situation. This, too, can be considered a form of heroism in times of epidemic, and thanks to them we have been able to ensure a safe and reliable supply of energy not only in Czechia but also abroad.

Let me first look at the year 2020 in a different way than just through the epidemic perspective. A crucial and important chapter is the ongoing Europe-wide drive to decarbonize. In the context of its commitment to the Green Deal, the European Commission has tightened its targets for reducing CO2 emissions, increasing the share of renewables, and improving energy efficiency. 

CEZ Group has traditionally been one of the pioneers of new trends in the Central European region and wants to continue to be a leader. Our new Vize 2030 Clean Energy of Tomorrow is therefore based on ambitious sustainable development goals that fully reflect the transformation of the energy sector towards low-emission. For example, we are committed to reducing the share of coal-fired power generation from nearly 40% to around 12% during this decade. At the same time, we are preparing to build large-scale renewable energy plants in Czechia. We want to build plants with a capacity of up to 6,000 MW within ten years. We are relying primarily on solar power plants, which we want to build mainly on the premises of our plants and on brownfield sites. We also have precise plans in the areas of community relations, customer orientation and relations with current and future employees. A detailed overview of all Clean Energy of Tomorrow’s goals can be found in this report. 

Let me briefly turn to energy savings, which is a major focus of the European Union. We are among the Czech market leaders and our projects not only save our customers hundreds of millions of CZK (Czech koruna) a year, but also prevent the production of tens of thousands of tons of CO2. We cooperate with major clients such as leading industrial companies, prestigious universities, and important cultural institutions. We also offer our services to the state: last autumn, we signed the Energy Efficiency Agreement with the Ministry of Industry and Trade of the Czech Republic, which will help the country to comply with its European savings commitments. But we certainly do not limit ourselves to Czechia: the companies associated with our subsidiary Elevion Group undertake over 6,000 energy projects across Europe every year.

Although it is climate action that has received the most attention in the last few years, we see sustainable development more comprehensively through the ESG (Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance) factors. In the area of social relations and corporate governance, we have therefore set clear criteria for what we want to achieve within Vize 2030. Here, too, we are aiming high: for example, we want to establish ourselves as the energy supplier most recommended by our customers among the large energy suppliers, or to maintain our status as the most attractive employer in the energy sector. As part of the upcoming transformation towards clean energy, we want to take care of all employees affected by the decline in coal-fired generation. At the same time, we will work hard to increase the representation of women in management positions. We would like to increase their representation to 30%. I firmly believe that ČEZ will continue to be among the leaders and that our efforts will inspire other companies.

We recognize that sustainable development must have a global dimension. Therefore, like other international companies, CEZ Group builds its strategy on the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted for the period of 2015 to 2030. We are actively contributing to a total of 14 out of 17 goals and we are proud that Czechia as a whole ranks 8th out of 166 countries in the global comparative ranking. In 2020, for example, we have contributed to Goal 11 (Sustainable Cities and Communities) through faster construction of charging stations, and more than a billion CZK allocated to research and development corresponds to Goal 9 (Industry, Innovation, and Infrastructure). In pursuit of Goal 4 (Quality Education), employees of the parent company, ČEZ, devoted an average of 52 hours to their personal development through various training courses. And we also made progress in Goal 5 (Gender Equality), where we managed to increase the proportion of women in CEZ Group management from 11% to 14% year-on-year.

Since this Report aims to map out 2020 in terms of non-financial indicators in particular, I would like to emphasize one more thing. What I value most when looking back at 2020 is the fact that we have managed to live up to our long-term motto “We Are with You”. In the most difficult moments, we stood firmly not only with our employees, but also with our customers, suppliers, and all those who needed our help. And we did on literally every front: we deferred advances to customers, donated equipment to hospitals, provided the state with our call center operators for tracing, distributed thousands of lunches to those in need, and supported distance education for children. The ČEZ Foundation has released one-fifth of all funds for 2020 to mitigate the impact of the epidemic. Our efforts to protect our employees from infection became a priority; we were one of the first in Czechia to introduce antigen testing and then self-testing at our facilities. We have launched a psychological hotline where employees and their family members can address their problems as well as a special Coronavirus hotline dedicated to the issue of disease symptoms, testing, and other aspects. We have also introduced a new benefit in the form of on-line medical care.

I hope that, in hindsight, our memories of 2020 will be dominated mainly by those bright moments when we felt a sense of unity and pride. I wish you pleasant reading of the following pages—I believe you will find it inspirational and encouraging. 

Daniel Beneš
Chief Executive Officer and Chairman of the Board of Directors of ČEZ, a. s.