How startups can progress the energy transition and climate protection – and how dena is involved

With their innovative business models, startups are playing a key role in climate protection and the energy transition. That’s why dena is now encouraging young companies with an international award. In this way, it’s creating a global network for founders, investors and other stakeholders at the same time.

Still running the washing machine in the evening, recharging the mobile overnight – more and more households in Germany are using electricity for these purposes that they’ve generated by day in their solar power system. To date, German citizens have installed more than 40,000 battery storage systems. These battery packs provide them with home-made solar energy even when it’s dark.

But the storage facilities are capable of more than just this. Some companies have started to network solar batteries with one another, so that they can take part in the electricity market. This gives households a chance to improve the cost efficiency of their storage facilities – for example, by providing balancing energy. Electricity system operators can use the battery network to stabilise the electricity grid. For this they pay a fee, which is shared between the households and the companies. Some providers even set up an electricity exchange within the network. If a plant operator generates more energy than required and fills up their storage facility, they can sell the electricity to other members of the network.

Startups with innovative business models

Energy transition and climate protection provide a breeding ground for new business models

That’s an innovative concept – and, at the same time, an example of how the global restructuring of the energy system creates spaces for new, attractive business models. Because, as the energy supply becomes decarbonised, roles become reallocated: the classic distinction between energy provider and consumer no longer applies. The barriers between electricity and heating supply, transport and industry collapse as well. A comprehensive digitalisation of the entire energy system also forms part of the package. Such profound upheavals create an ideal breeding ground for fresh ideas and bold concepts – and without these, climate protection and the energy transition have no hope of success.

These new solutions often come from startups. That’s because they can draw on high levels of innovative power, flexibility and creativity – important qualities for enabling effective tools for a climate-friendly restructuring of the energy supply to be developed. In addition, the young enterprises have a decisive advantage over the established energy industry: climate protection and the energy transition are part of their DNA. As for the ‘culture transition’, it’s not an issue for them, because they’ve always been active in this area anyway. That’s why they occupy a key position in the new world of energy.

International startup award encourages innovations in climate protection and the energy transition

“The aim of our initiative is to bring pioneers and enablers of the global energy transition together.”

Andreas Kuhlmann, Chief Executive of dena

All these are good reasons for the Deutsche Energie-Agentur (dena) – the German Energy Agency – to set up the international ‘Start Up Energy Transition’ competition. With this new award, dena is honouring particularly promising business models for climate protection and the energy transition from across the world. At the same time, by means of this award dena is creating a platform for dialogue between startups, corporations, investors, think thanks and other players united by their campaign against climate change.

‘The aim of our initiative is to bring pioneers and enablers of the global energy transition together, and to establish an international network of companies, startups and sustainability-conscious organisations,’ says Andreas Kuhlmann, Chief Executive of dena. This makes the ‘Start Up Energy Transition’ award the only international competition of its kind where networking and cooperation come foremost.

The award was presented in March 2017, as part of a Tech Festival on the eve of the ‘Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue’ (BETD) in Berlin. Six start-ups from France, Germany, India, Bangladesh and Nigeria have received the award, persuading the jury with their innovative ideas for the energy transition and worldwide climate protection. A prestigious international jury chose the start-ups out of more than 500 applications from 66 countries. In total 18 finalists were invited to Berlin to present their ideas and business models at the ‘Start Up Energy Transition-Tech Festival’, which has brought start-ups together with company representatives from all over the world.

As a spin-off from the ‘Start Up Energy Transition Award’ the #GET100 (Global Energy Transition 100) list contains those start-ups which received the best accolades from the international jury.

Evening event at Berlin Energy Transition Dialogue

Famous partners from across the globe

More than 70 partners from over 25 countries on all continents have already joined the ‘Start Up Energy Transition’ network, including a number of tech hubs and venture capital funds. They are united by one goal: to promote innovations for climate protection and the energy transition. That also applies to the numerous prestigious individuals who are supporting this dena initiative. For example, these include Patricia Espinosa, General Secretary of the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC); Adnan Z. Amin, Director General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA); Fatih Birol, Director of the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK); Hans Joachim Schellnhuber; and Jules Kortenhorst, CEO of the Rocky Mountain Institute.

Sponsors such as Envision Energy, Innogy Innovation Hub, the KfW Group, wilo and the Austrian energy provider Verbund ensure access to established industry sectors.

Andreas Kuhlmann @ Tech Festival

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Andreas Kuhlmann "The Power of Innovation"

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