Simplifying decentralized energy solutions
Earlier this month, our portfolio companies Lumenaza and Kiwigrid announced they were teaming up to offer a manufacturer-agnostic home energy management solution (HEMS) with a customized green electricity flat rate tariff for households with their own PV storage systems. It’s the first time devices from different manufacturers can be used and networked in such a way, giving homeowners greater flexibility and transparency over their electricity management, improving self-sufficiency and simplifying the process.
We caught up with Lumenaza founder and CEO, Dr. Christian Chudoba and Kiwigrid CEO, Dr. Frank Schlichting, to learn more.
Can you tell us more about the partnership?
Frank: Both Lumenaza and Kiwigrid want to achieve 100% decentralized and renewable energy, so we embraced the opportunity to create a holistic energy solution consisting of software, hardware and smart energy tariffs. The result of our cooperation is an important step towards the urgently needed sector coupling in the decentralized energy world. Our partnership is very complementary and, thanks to excellent cooperation, led to an extremely fast time to market. It only took us six weeks to implement the solution.
Christian: Previously, there was no customer-friendly solution for homeowners to cover all their electricity needs with a truly green supply, even when they installed a PV system. The administrative processes were also a challenge. A homeowner would need to choose, install and manage a PV and storage combination, plus choose a truly green electricity tariff for the residual energy at a good price.
Our joint solution simplifies the process for prosumers. It also provides great value for hardware manufacturers and retailers, who can enhance their competitive position and increase sales in their core business.
Frank: BayWa r.e., a leading renewable energy company, is the first business to market the solution. It has made a significant contribution to the development of the product and recently launched the manufacturer-independent Home Energy Management System (HEMS) as sonniQ and the flat rate as sonniQ+. By using HEMS in combination with the seamlessly integrated personal electricity tariff, BayWa r.e. can ensure the same user experience to its customers independent of the battery or PV system they have installed.
What is Lumenaza’s role in the partnership?
Christian: The offering is structured from the end-consumer’s perspective to provide a seamless experience, from the equipment installation process through to signing up for a personalized, attractively-priced residual green electricity flat fee.
Our open interfaces enabled Kiwigrid to integrate us into the existing customer portal of the HEMS so that both current and new customers can register for the tariff with just a few clicks. Lumenaza acts as a utility-as-a-service, meaning we take over the supplier role and all subsequent energy management processes such as billing, switching, balancing group management and the procurement of electricity of clear origin. The tariff is based on Lumenaza.Flat, an electricity product tailored to PV storage systems that we launched in 2019.
What is Kiwigrid’s role in the partnership?
Frank: Kiwigrid has developed a complete home energy management solution, which allows the PV system, storage, heat pump and wallbox to be networked and intelligently controlled regardless of the manufacturer. This gives you maximum flexibility for the components you choose to integrate.
HEMS is built on our open energy service platform KiwiOS and paves the way for future integrations, including intelligent EV charging solutions and other data-driven upselling opportunities for customers. As a white-label solution, HEMS can be combined with individually-tailored configurations to suit different utilities and business needs, including those of installers and housing developers.
How can homeowners access the service?
Frank: Homeowners can buy the product through distributors and their partners such as BayWa r.e. End customers benefit from the optimum coordination of the individual components – from electricity to heat and mobility – and can supplement their self-generated power with electricity of clear origin. Previously, households with their own PV storage combination often had to book an additional electricity tariff which could not be optimally adjusted to the complete system. The HEMS solution allows the PV system, storage, heat pump and wallbox to be networked and intelligently controlled regardless of the manufacturer.
Christian: It’s crucial to leverage existing distribution channels and work together with strong and well-connected partners such as BayWa r.e. to accelerate new energy together. They can roll out the offer nationwide by drawing on their existing network of distributors.
What do you see as the biggest obstacles for homeowners to transition to a photovoltaic system?
Christian: The main obstacle is overly complex regulation and an overload of administrative tasks. That is why we are working with policymakers and other industry players to simplify the rules and drive the digitization of the energy system, especially for prosumers. This is where we see our main contribution in the future. We will continue to decrease complexity for homeowners and prosumers, offering them easy-to-understand energy solutions. Ultimately, this will help to lower energy bills and open up new income streams from PV production, or the flexibility of components such as the home battery.
Frank: Installing solar power at home should be a lot less complicated than it currently is. The registration and application procedures for each PV system, heat pump and charging station are enormous, while even simple things such as finding out about pricing, what components are needed and who can install and maintain them are extremely complex. Homeowners need accessible information and the freedom to decide what works for them. They should face fewer bureaucratic barriers.
Also, the digitization of the energy transition needs to be accelerated. For instance, we have been discussing smart meter gateways for 10 years in Germany, yet there is still only a small number of them on the market and, so far, their functionality is completely unattractive for consumers.
What are your plans moving forward?
Christian: The Lumenaza Energy-as-a-Service platform is continually evolving. In the short-term, we will offer a special tariff that will allow consumers to directly link their electricity price to the energy exchange, which is enabled by the rollout of intelligent metering systems. We will also provide special tariffs and power purchase agreements for post-EEG power plants – even in the residential space. And we will continue innovating on more personalized and affordable tariffs – for example for EV-owners – that will also support energy demand management. Additionally, we will move into new European markets. All these activities will benefit from expanding our partnership with Kiwigrid to cover more customer scenarios.
Frank: We are constantly working on improving the KiwiOS platform that sits at the heart of our SaaS and EaaS solutions to achieve our vision of a world powered by 100% renewable energy. At the moment, we have software and hardware products in the pipeline that will complement our existing offering and fast-track the journey towards efficient sector coupling.