AMPEERS ENERGY - Interview with the founders

In order to present our green start up, we have asked Dr. Karsten Schmidt, Gerrit Ellerwald and Tobias Müller for a talk. They must know their way around, because they founded AMPEERS ENERGY together in May 2019. In this interview, the three founders answer questions about the most important aspects of their company.

8 Min. reading time

8 Min. reading time

von Dr. Karsten Schmidt,
Gerrit Ellerwald, Tobias Müller, Autoren
Published on 12.06.2019

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by Dr. Karsten Schmidt,
Gerrit Ellerwald, Tobias Müller, authors
Published on 01.08.2019

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1. How did it actually get started in 2019?

To be honest, the time for AMPEERS ENERGY had simply come. The energy market is changing, the social interest in local, cheap electricity is there. There is a demand and now with our idea there is a suitable solution. Because we offer a complete software solution that makes decentralized business models profitable and simple. So we could not help but found AMPEERS ENERGY.

Karsten and Gerrit had known each other since university and after successfully completing their diploma, they continued their way together to E.ON. There the time they spent together was only short because Gerrit soon left E.ON to found his own company “Grünspar”. When he had his successful exit there, Karsten had simultaneously identified the current back-end technology of our company at the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft and started to prepare the spin-off of a spin-off. Thanks to Gerrit’s founding expertise and Karsten’s energy science know-how, the company was already well-positioned. It soon became clear that a cooperation would work here, as they not only knew each other well, but also understood each other very well.

During the spin-off, Tobias was brought on board for market analysis and structuring. Tobias brought with him valuable experience in the area of tenant flow, which he had been able to gather during his time at Polarstern, and here too the chemistry was right from the start. Humanly, we were all on the same wavelength and our view of the challenges and opportunities of the energy turnaround was also consistent in terms of content. On this basis, the three of us founded AMPEERS ENERGY together with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft in May 2019.
From our point of view, the foundation of a new company was necessary to be able to act quickly and flexibly. No lengthy decision-making structures. No tough discussion rounds. We simply want to advance the time-critical topic of the energy revolution in an uncomplicated and above all effective way. There is no point just waiting and hoping that the energy system transformation will happen on its own. As pathetic as it sounds, energy system transformation must now be tackled and made simple. We want a sustainable and green future. That was one of the main motivations behind the foundation.

2. What exactly does AMPEERS ENERGY do?

AMPEERS ENERGY enables companies to tap the potential of decentralized business models – economically and ecologically! This is not only a profitable business model, but also promotes the energy turnaround.

As an SaaS company we offer cloud-based applications for the management and optimization of energy and data flows in the neighborhood. This may sound very complicated at first, but it’s not. On the contrary: our software solution is designed to simplify the complex issue of “energy management”, to optimize and automate processes and to save money.

As a Fraunhofer spin-off, we have the necessary expertise for this thanks to the promising combination of technological know-how, in the form of the software and development competence of the IOSB-AST, and our very experienced team, which develops the products based on the back-end of the IOSB in a market-oriented manner. This enables us on the one hand to guarantee the technological originality and innovation potential of our products and on the other hand to ensure that our solutions perfectly match the customer needs in the market.

3. Describe your product and how it can be used.

Our offer is a market novelty. We deliver not only partial solutions, but the complete software support for the simple, complete and scalable implementation of decentralized business models with renewable energies. Our solution consists of three essential building blocks that can be combined with each other.

Our central SaaS solution, the AE District Manager, serves to optimize cross-sectoral energy flows (electricity, heat, and mobility) in the district. Through the use of intelligent, self-learning technologies, the District Manager is able to connect various decentralized system components (e.g. PV system, battery storage, heat pump, charging points, CHP, etc.) and control them in such a way that they are operated according to demand and with maximum efficiency. We are talking about cost saving potentials of about 20%. Suitable for the District Manager are all larger building complexes with a heterogeneous generation infrastructure – residential quarters, various mixed-use quarters as well as various special properties such as airports, hospitals and nursing homes or shopping centres.

Our second SaaS solution is the AE Local Supplier. It is our answer to all questions regarding tenant flow. As a fully automated and end-to-end integrated software, it handles the complete administrative side of tenant electricity projects (e.g. change processes, balancing, billing of generation facilities and end customers, receivables management). It brings the concentrated load of energy management expertise with it and is absolutely easy to use. This saves the local supplier time, nerves and money, as it leads to an increase in profitability of 40-50%.
All medium-sized and large housing construction companies, or all companies with a relevant large housing stock (church, private, public and co-operatives) are suitable for our tenant electricity and neighbourhood solutions. There are approximately 40 million apartments in Germany – at least 10% of which are suitable for tenant electricity and for the AE Local Supplier.

The AE Fleet Optimizer is our third SaaS solution and handles the controlled loading of e-vehicle fleets. The interaction of all relevant data at the location of the charging infrastructure results in an economically optimized load and charging management that is perfectly integrated into the operational processes.
Already from a fleet of 10 vehicles with plannable routes, the Fleet Optimizer enables savings of up to 5 cents per driven kilometre (compared to a diesel fleet) through its anticipatory charging.

The basis of our products is the extremely powerful Fraunhofer software EMS-EDM Prophet®, which, through the use of self-learning technologies, is able to connect all decentralized processes related to energy generation and consumption and to control them in a targeted manner.

We receive feedback from customers and cooperation partners time and again that we offer a complete solution. This naturally makes us very proud.

4. What are the technical details? What makes you different from the competition?

The technology basically consists of two core components – an energy management component for forecasting and optimising cross-sectoral energy flows and a billing component in line with the energy market.

The energy management component forecasts and optimizes the operation of decentralized generation and consumption plants. The more heterogeneous these plants are, the better the technology can play out its strengths. Similar to a conductor, one orchestrates all producers in a neighbourhood according to the respective consumer behaviour and can thus not only harmonise processes but also save money. This is based on mathematical, statistical optimization models and the basic idea that one tries to make production and consumption as congruent as possible and thus maximize the own consumption. In very, very simple terms, the car should be charged when the sun is shining. Load peaks are smoothed out, for example, by the software switching flexible loads on or off if their use can be postponed.

The billing component is essentially based on the various measurement data, such as from the consumption and generation meters, and allocates them according to their cause. In this way, the local supplier creates the billing of the energy supply to the end customer, for example, or assumes the obligation to report to the distributor, main customs office, and other authorities. The service of the settlement component is to collect the relevant energy data correctly, allocate it transparently, and settle or forward it correctly.

The software thus covers all energy-related aspects and makes it easy for our customers to implement decentralized business models with renewable energies. Thanks to its modular structure, each customer can decide individually on the depth of added value when implementing the business models.
This functionality combined with the intuitive usability clearly differentiates us from our competitors. Furthermore, thanks to our cooperation with the Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, we have the enormous advantage of being able to continuously integrate further innovations into our SaaS solutions. We are in close contact with Fraunhofer and can therefore talk about innovations and findings from both sides and see how these can be combined for further development. This is a market advantage that no other start-up has.

5. Who can benefit from this software?

There are three main target groups for our services: Energy suppliers and service providers, the real estate industry (apartments as well as industrial and commercial premises) and fleet operators.

Energy service providers and utilities are specifically looking for opportunities to become active in new decentralised fields of application, such as buildings or neighbourhoods. With the help of our software we enable them to offer innovative energy solutions for their customers efficiently and profitably.

We give the housing industry access to a completely new business segment for them. Their existing roof and basement areas can be used to bring renewable energy into their properties. The properties are upgraded and the housing industry expands its tenant service offering, as locally generated, low-cost green electricity can be offered.
We enable the real estate industry to act as an energy service provider. The fact that the real estate industry has no previous knowledge of the energy industry is no problem, since all knowledge relevant to the energy market and the law is contained in the software, which is so easy to use.

Our solutions are also interesting for every fleet operator with a larger number of electric vehicles. This is because our AI intelligently combines tours and schedules with charging management, so that the fleet can drive on the road with low emissions and, thanks to maximized internal consumption, at optimized costs.

6. What are the corporate goals for the next 5 years?

Our short-term goal is to build the company comprehensively. We founded AMPEERS ENERGY in May 2019 – so we are learning every day how to optimize internal cooperation, our processes and infrastructure. In the long term we want to be the first point of contact in the market when it comes to making decentralized energy concepts possible.

By developing sustainable, profitable business models, we are taking away the last arguments that kept sceptics away from renewables. When we look to the future, we imagine that we have enabled many companies to play an active role in implementing the decentralized energy turnaround. We simply want to make our contribution to reducing overall CO2 emissions, the main cause of our current climate change. Be it housing construction companies that have equipped their roofs with PV systems, fleets that have converted to electromobility, or energy suppliers that have gained a foothold in the decentralized energy business.

7. What does working at AMPEERS ENERGY look like? Is the team already complete?

Due to the urgency of the issue and the high demand for our software solution, we are well utilized. Reinforcement is always welcome!  

We have our headquarters in Munich, but according to our company philosophy, there is the possibility to work decentralized (e.g. from the home office). We don’t want to transplant new employees, but let them work where their roots are and where they feel comfortable. Thanks to modern technologies and working methods, we act virtually and in a resource-saving manner, so that we can exchange information on a daily basis and bridge the physical distance. Especially in today’s world, these experiences and structures benefit us.

Of course, we work in a team-oriented manner, we are at eye level with each other and feedback is desired, given and lived in all directions. But most of all, we see a purpose in our work and are therefore happy to pursue it.

It is incredibly motivating to make an active contribution to the energy turnaround and thus also to a greener future with our daily work. And for those who also believe that we should no longer just talk about the energy revolution, but should finally tackle it, we recommend taking a look at our website. There you will find job vacancies (as well as contact details for unsolicited applications).