Innovative Energy Solutions with coneva

From inverter manufacturers to energy service provider—SMA will exploit the opportunities of digitalization. Jochen Schneider established the new subsidiary coneva together with Frank Blessing and Frank Reichenbach. With innovative digital energy services, the start-up is showing its customers the way to a decentralized and networked energy future.

Jochen, how will the energy supply landscape change over the coming years?

Energy solutions with coneva.

Jochen Schneider, general manager of coneva, has been developing business models with a focus on renewable energies, decentralized energy management and digital technologies for more than 10 years.

Jochen Schneider: The decentralized energy world will continue to grow rapidly, which will ultimately result in the energy supply no longer being ensured by a few companies in the future but by millions of energy producers who are frequently also consumers, i.e., prosumers. To ensure a safe, sustainable and efficient electricity supply, the interconnecting of the various elements of the decentralized energy world is essential. This means that producers, such as photovoltaic or wind turbine systems, must be connected to consumers and storage systems. The traditional business models of utility companies will be called into question and new competitors are entering the market, providing these prosumers with innovative solutions for the efficient use and marketing of their self-generated electricity. Traditional utility companies can retain a foothold in this market only by offering their customers dedicated solutions for the new energy world. This is exactly where the services of coneva come into play.


In what sense?

Jochen Schneider: We develop precisely these solutions for public utility companies, housing companies and telecommunications companies, for example. In turn, these companies can then offer the solutions to their end customers under their own name. Among our energy solutions are concepts for the optimization of energy self-consumption or community models.  We also directly approach companies such as supermarket and hotel chains or hospitals with our offer of energy monitoring, energy control and energy management. Our solutions can help them make considerable savings in energy costs and give them the possibility to participate in energy trade.


What exactly is this offer?

Energy solutions with coneva

Frank Reichenbach (left) is responsible for solutions for commercial applications, Frank Blessing (right) is head of residential product management.

Frank Blessing: For each of these customer groups, we create solution packages, which combine hardware and software with the appropriate energy services. The packages are based on simple logic. First, the energy flows at the home or business are recorded in an energy monitoring. This means that customers of public utility companies or the companies we work with directly know how and where they are consuming energy. Our recommended actions then help them enhance their energy efficiency. The next step involves intelligent energy management, whereby we control the energy producers and consumers fully automatically at a local level, so that, for example, self-generated electricity can be used efficiently thereby significantly reducing costs. In doing so, we not only link the traditional electrical appliances found at home or in businesses, but also integrate heating and air conditioning, e-mobility and storage systems. Connection to the electricity market is also essential. We are therefore developing a platform, on which we connect customer systems together and give them the opportunity to trade excess electricity on a digital marketplace or offer grid services to earn money.

Frank Reichenbach: It’s important that the prosumers, whether private households or companies, and their requirements, are always the center of our focus. The new energy supply with its many players doesn’t just sound complex—it is complex. However, this should never be perceived by the end customers. We want all stakeholders to benefit from the possibilities of a decentralized energy supply as directly and straightforwardly as possible. The solutions designed for them must therefore be safe, simple and convenient. Our energy services can guarantee this at all times as they are based on the ennexOS platform from SMA. This platform has been developed based on SMA’s long-standing, extensive expertise in energy and grid management services. By the way, ennexOS received the smarter E Award at Intersolar in Munich.


What role does SMA play for coneva?

Jochen Schneider: Numerous start-ups are currently entering the energy services market in particular. These companies bring new ideas but have little experience on the market or with the technology. For us, it’s therefore a huge advantage that we can build on SMA’s many years of expertise, sophisticated technology and data, while also being able to act as a dynamic, stand-alone unit independently of the parent company. On top of that, SMA’s financial strength provides our customers with the security that the company will still exist in several years’ time. You could say that coneva is a start-up with standing.


Frank, you have joined coneva after many years at SMA as a product manager.

Frank Blessing: That’s correct. After all, it’s not every day that you get the opportunity to establish an innovative start-up, which is significantly shaping the energy supply of the future with brand-new digital energy services. This change of position also means that I can bring the experience and expertise that I gained at SMA to dialog with experts from other areas.

Frank Reichenbach: This is the very thing that makes coneva exciting—the staff of 14 comes from very different areas, including the energy industry, telecommunications and automotive, and are specialized in varying disciplines such as energy trade, data management, system architecture and IT. They bring with them a combination of many years of experience, new ideas and a lot of enthusiasm. External partners from other industries are also involved, which, in turn, opens up completely new perspectives. All of this flows into our solutions.

Jochen Schneider: We learn something new every day from discussions with our stakeholder, which helps us to develop our services and better align ourselves to the needs of our customers. The positive response from partners and customers alike shows us that our digital range of services is emerging at just the right moment. After all, the shift to decentralized energy supply structures is making rapid progress across the world. In this regard, a highlight was our first public appearance at the E-World trade fair in Essen. The interest that we experienced there was really overwhelming.


After this successful start, what are your next objectives?

Jochen Schneider: Since then, a lot has already happened. Meanwhile, we have started a whole range of pilot projects with public utility companies and supermarkets. Additional projects are in the planning phase. Together with our partner Danfoss, with whom we are also planning a joint venture in the supermarkets sector, we are already in the process of equipping a supermarket in Oldenburg with our solutions. After the launch in Germany, internationalization is an important strategic aim for us. The U.S. is in our sights as the next big target market. However, we also see good potential in the European markets outside of Germany and in Australia. We’d also like to expand our partner network in the coming months and further develop our digital services for energy management and energy efficiency with these external experts. For example, we are developing mobile Apps in the areas of energy consulting and energy community, which we are planning to present at E-World 2019.


Thank you very much for the interview.


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