Issue #102, November 2018

   Transforming Transformation
   Energy Startup Investment
   The Energy Grid
   Energy Storage
   Microenergy Harvesting
   Local Government
   Winter Events

Transforming Transformation
According to the first law of thermodynamics, energy can be neither created nor destroyed, only transformed from one form to another. In the case of electrical power, however, this transformation comes at a cost.

The burning of fossil fuels emits greenhouse gases that pollute air and raise global temperatures. Even renewable alternatives are not yet fully practical : wind and solar are only intermittently available, and the storage of transformed energy is difficult and expensive .

Regardless whether originating from a finite or renewable resource, 70-75% of energy is lost before it reaches consumers. This is partly due to science--entropy, or the tendency of a system to move toward greater disorder, makes some energy unavailable for useful work--and partly due to technological inefficiencies.

Our November newsletter features innovations that improve the efficiency and lower the negative impact of energy transformation. Read about startups focusing on energy storage and reconceiving the energy grid, university research on microenergy harvesting and Hamburg's response to climate change. In an interview we talk with Karyn Stoess, a self-proclaimed "matchmaker for energy startups and investors."

©Karyn Stoess

Karyn Stoess is a Manager of :agile, an energy startup incubator/accelerator & seed investor hosted in the major German energy conglomerate E.ON. Having been a part of the founding team of :agile, Stoess now manages and steers the :agile portfolio and the commercial aspects of the program. Her primary role is ultimately mentorship, however, as she helps startups get ready for market, scale and follow-up investments.
Stoess's perspective on startups and entrepreneurship can well be summed up in one of her favorite quotes: " If you think you are too small to make a difference, try sleeping with a mosquito." -The Dalai Lama.
In this interview Stoess offers advice for American startups looking to enter the German market and discusses changes in the German energy market and challenges facing women entrepreneurs.

OEEX's Homepage

Innovations in the Energy Grid:
OEEX Beitrag3

OEEX (Open Energy Exchange) is a digital platform that connects consumers directly to clean energy producers. Powered by Blockchain, the platform makes peer-to-peer energy trading secure and, as their website says, "so easy your grandma could do it."
While many governments are increasing their investments in renewables, the advantages of these renewables for individuals and their direct energy uses are often still difficult to discern. OEEX's technology reconceives the energy grid, erasing the top-down system of utilities-to-consumers and replacing it with transactions between individuals.
Using OEEX's custom software on their smartphones or computers, customers can track-or use AI to track for them-when clean energy is available for sale and immediate use, even filtering by locally-produced wind or solar energy. This system greatly improves the efficiency of the electric grid, as electricity must no longer be stored and redistributing, which is a costly procedure for producers, and, by proxy, consumers.

More at

The sonnenBatterie in a Home ©sonnen GmBH

Innovations in Energy Storage:
Sonnen  Interview2018   

The sonnen group is the worldwide market leader for energy storage and the operator of the largest energy sharing platform. As one of the fastest growing companies in Germany and Europe, sonnen has received numerous international awards for its technology. In a ranking of the " Top 50 Smartest Companies 2016" by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), sonnen was listed alongside Amazon, Facebook and Tesla.

In addition to its headquarters in Wildpoldsried in the Allgäu region of Bavaria and its location in Berlin, sonnen has international offices in Italy, Great Britain, the U.S. and Australia. sonnen also has three production sites in Wildpoldsried (Germany), Atlanta (USA) and Adelaide (Australia). With its core markets, sonnen is active in over 21 countries worldwide realizing a clean and decentralized energy supply from renewable energies.

The basis of this vision is the sonnenBatterie, a smart battery storage system. With the sonnenBatterie, a household can cover around 80 percent of its annual needs with self-generated, clean solar energy.

With the digital networking of the individual sonnenBatteries, Germany's first, decentralized energy community has emerged in which storage owners can generate their own electricity and share it with others. In this way members of the sonnenCommunity can become 100% independent of a traditional provider and supply their households completely by renewable energies.

Members can also participate in the world's largest virtual power plant of thousands of networked sonnenBatteries. The network can compensate fluctuations in the power grid in a matter of seconds by tapping into stores or releasing excess energy. This will make the electricity grid more flexible for the use of renewable energies.

Investors in the Bavarian company include the U.S. technology corporations General Electric and Shell.

More at
Representatives of livMatS Celebrate Cluster Selection
©Juergen Gocke/Universitaet Freiburg

Innovations in Microenergy Harvesting:
Excellence Cluster livMatS Beitrag3

When thinking of alternative energy, people often discuss large-scale solutions like powering a country by renewables or reconceiving the energy grid. In contrast, the recently awarded Excellence Cluster at the University of Freiburg, "Living, adaptive and energy-autonomous material systems" (livMatS), is exploring microenergy harvesting, focusing not on how energy can be generated, but on how to avoid energy consumption.

livMatS is developing movable devices that adapt their properties to changes in the environment and harvest the required energy for these adaptations from this environment. Such life-like properties will not be generated by a single "miracle material," but a complex materials system. In terms of energy, these devices and their adaptations must not be powered by batteries, motors or sensors, which will greatly reduce the significant energy consumption of mobile and stand-by devices.

Today's materials have properties like strength, hardness and conductivity given to them during production that do not change over time. In contrast to this, all living beings, from simple cells to entire organisms, are not static at all, but adapt to the environment at all times. The vision of livMatS is to unite the best of both worlds, the world of nature and the world of technology.

Even though livMatS is largely focused on basic research, there are myriads of possible applications for these systems. Examples include a shading system for facades that opens and closes without motors much like pine cone; helmets, back protectors or prostheses that can automatically adapt to the wearer without batteries - for example, by exploiting body heat; or "soft" machines that can recognize and grasp objects by feeling them without the help of a computer.

In order to turn this vision into reality, livMatS brings together scientists from the fields of energy research, polymer science, biomimetics and microsystems engineering and combines them with sustainability research, behavioral sciences and philosophy. The Cluster of Excellence livMatS is funded through the program line "Excellence Strategy" by the German Research Council (DFG) for seven years, starting in 2019.

More on livMatS here

For more on the Excellence Strategy, see last month's newsletter. 

Renewable Energy Plants in the Port of Hamburg
©Hamburg Wasser

Innovations in Local Governments:
Renewable Energy Hamburg

With 14.8% of its electricity coming from wind and solar, the city of Hamburg is a European leader in renewable energy. Much of that is thanks to Renewable Energy Hamburg, a network of 190 companies and institutions clustered together in Hamburg collaborating on renewable energy solutions.

The organization was founded in 2011 by the Free and Hanseatic City of Hamburg and the independent Association for the Development of the Renewable Energy Cluster in Hamburg. Both groups now hold respectively 51 and 49 percent ownership of the Erneuerbare Energien Hamburg Clusteragentur GmbH company. The managing director is Jan Rispens.

Renewable Energy Hamburg organizes high-class business events such as conferences and workshops to inform member companies on current developments within the various markets of renewables. The cluster participates in top exhibitions with member companies as sub-exhibitors. Experts within the industry exchange experiences and information in working groups. Currently, it even working on arousing the media awareness concerning renewables.

Internationally, the cluster networks in other ways-by travelling as delegates with Hamburg senator for Economics, Transport and Innovation Frank Horch to South Korea, Japan and China, for example. Since 2016 the cluster Renewable Energy Hamburg has been working as partner in the EU projects Green Power Electronics and Northern Connections. On a national level, the cluster is part of the consortium of the federal research project "Norddeutsche EnergieWende 4.0" (Northern German Energy Transition 4.0) running until 2020.

Future of XR Symposium - Oct. 29, 2018
©Nathalie Schueller
Events will become more seldom as we near the holidays. Be sure to keep an eye on our Events Calendar on our website.