New energy transition concept: A pizza box electricity

A Hamburg company does not want to earn more money from the electricity it supplies. And it wants to make the billion-dollar promotion of green electricity superfluous. If the concept works out, it could fundamentally change the energy transition.

In the opinion of Heiko von Tschischwitz, 50, the age in which green electricity had to be promoted is over. According to him, politics could be said: "Thank you for your help, you have grown up the renewable energies, now you can lie down again."

Tschischwitz is not anyone. He is considered by many in the energy industry as a pioneer. In 1998 he co-founded the company Lichtblick, which is now Germany's largest green electricity supplier. In 2016, he founded Enyway, an energy start-up that was one of the first to rely fully on digitization.

On Thursday, the Hamburg company wants to present a new product that makes any state subsidies for green electricity superfluous - and at the same time should significantly reduce annual electricity costs.

Stephan Ziehl / bright spot

Heiko von Tschischwitz

The product, which is called full-bodied "change" and which combines a whole bundle of technical and economic trends, works like this:

  • From 20 November, Enyway wants to start building large solar open-air plants, where citizens can participate even with small amounts.
  • In the first step, the area of ​​a planned solar system is divided into many parcels on the computer. The pieces have two sizes: There is the "pizza box" (30 x 30 centimeters) and the "table tennis table" (274 x 152.5 centimeters).
  • In the second step, investors can lease such a plot for a certain period of time. For example, a pizza-sized piece costs 39 euros for two years. The concept is based on the so-called crowdfunding strategy and is intended to make the state's promotion of green electricity superfluous.
  • In the third step, an algorithm ensures that the green electricity of a given solar parcel always goes exclusively to their tenant. Behind the algorithm is the so-called blockchain technology. (How this works, has the "Handelsblatt" entertaining explained here.)

An electricity supplier who does not want to earn anything from his electricity

The electricity supplied by the solar parcels is far from sufficient to meet the needs of the tenants. A pizza box Solar energy could supply according to information of the enterprise straight the domestic laptop over the year with electricity.

The rest of the electricity that the tenants need is provided by Enyway. And at the price at which the company buys it himself. The electricity supplier does not want to earn anything from its electricity. Only in the "pizza boxes" and "table tennis" Enyway pays a small margin, in addition to a basic fee of 2.99 euros a month.

Customers should thereby save between 80 and 200 euros annually in costs compared to a rather favorable provider such as YelloStrom - depending on place of residence and consumption.

There are two further economic models of the future behind the extensive profit waiver. First, according to Jeremy Rifkin, the zero-marginal-cost theory that digitization puts the cost of services down to zero - which lowers prices. Second, the theory of the so-called platform economy.

"The age in which power companies have cut off with thick margins is just as over as the era of green electricity," says Tschischwitz. "Electricity is sold in the digital world through platforms at cost price, and business models are based on additional products offered to customers."

In the energy sector, for example, these could be smart electricity meters. Or consultations and aids that help customers reduce their own power consumption. Because if the utility does not earn more from the electricity it supplies, then it does not hurt him any more if his customers use less of it.

Far-reaching potential

Enyway is far from the only provider looking to develop the energy sector with digital business models. If products such as these prevail, then a lot could change soon:

  • Economically , providers like Enyway are questioning the more than 100-year-old business model of the old energy companies.
  • From a social point of view, consumers themselves suddenly have the energy turnaround in their own hands: Thanks to the new technology, anyone can now quickly and easily participate in the expansion of renewable energies in Germany - and that with just a few dozen euros.
  • From a political point of view, models like Enyway's take the government out of control of the energy transition. So far, the state has been able to set the pace of green electricity production by setting the pace at which new solar or wind turbines will be built. This would not work in the future.

Now it is far from being said that Tschischwitz prevails with his product. Experts also see critical points in his model. For one thing, it must first become clear how competitive Enyway really is, says Udo Sieverding from the NRW Consumer Center. "There are significantly cheaper suppliers on the market than YelloStrom, which Enyway compares to."

"On the other hand, the product is not easy to understand for laymen," continues Sieverding. It must first be seen if customers trust the new business model. In any case, it is positive that a company is experimenting with new business models for the energy sector, says Sieverding.