Built on a firm belief: The greentech node.energy

“To achieve success, you need perseverance.” It’s a phrase you might hear in the world of professional sport, but it’s also true for entrepreneurs, says Matthias Karger. The former professional volleyball player is now Co-Founder and Managing Director of HTGF portfolio company node.energy. The greentech’s software-as-a-service solution helps companies with their own wind turbines and solar panels to keep on top of their administrative duties and get the most out of their power generation systems. The young company has just concluded a Series A financing round, securing €7 million in funding. A third of all wind turbines in Germany already benefit from node.energy’s solution. But for Matthias and his team, that figure can go even higher.

Congratulations on completing your Series A financing round, Matthias!

Matthias: Thank you very much! For us it was really important to not just secure fresh capital but, above all, to get on board partners who bring strategically important skills to the table. And we succeeded in gaining some great investors in all important areas for our company, like real estate, sustainability, software and energy. It’s an important mix to have, and it’s a huge success for our organisation.

What do you plan to do with the fresh capital?

Matthias: We remain clearly committed to our mission of developing software to radically simplify renewable-energy planning and management, and thus playing our part in making the energy transition happen. Our target group includes professional operators of renewable energy systems, as well as those looking to follow that path. And it’s in the second part of that sentence in particular where you’ll find such an incredible amount of potential. You still don’t see anywhere near enough commercial and industrial firms with solar panels on the roofs of their buildings. Our software solution makes it easier to adopt these business models. We want to show how continuous operation is something that’s easy to handle. It’s a way of reducing CO2 emissions while earning money at the same time.

Matthias Karger, Co-Founder and Managing Director of node.energy

How does that work – doing something good for the environment while making money?

Matthias: A few years ago, some may have felt the two things did not go together. But for our team, we stopped seeing a contradiction a very long time ago. The start of the energy crisis a few months ago provided final proof, if any was needed, that renewable energies are indeed the most favourable form of energy – not just in terms of costs, but also from a geopolitical point of view. We can all see just how much more renewable energy we do in fact need.

So how does the software work exactly?

Matthias: To operate solar panels and wind turbines, you need to meet extremely high bureaucratic requirements. This often involves resorting to Excel and DIY solutions. Our software automates and simplifies the requisite processes for operation. The software collects all relevant data and sets up the configuration in the interface: What systems do I have? What am I planning to do in detail? Further information, such as on the relevant grid operators and fees, is automatically added. The software then uses this information to determine which obligations will need to be fulfilled, like notification obligations towards grid operators, the authorities and the like. By accessing the respective energy data from electricity or gas metres via an interface, the software is able to automatically prepare the notification documents. Our system offers such a wide range of functions that it can even handle the processing and invoicing of solar power supplied to individual building occupants.

Who uses your product?

Matthias: Our focus is on professional operators of energy systems, as well as those looking to follow that path, such as real-estate companies. For the most part, staff at these types of companies plan and operate wind turbines or large-scale solar-energy systems. But there is in fact a broad spectrum of clients, ranging from DHL, Trumpf and Deutsche Bahn to small energy cooperatives looking to make their village energy self-sufficient. They’re all banking on our system.

The electricity market is already becoming decentralised.

Matthias: It is indeed, and that’s what’s exciting about power generation in tomorrow’s world: It’s decentralised. You no longer have a small number of large generation firms feeding electricity into the grid. New stakeholders are emerging: Private individuals, cooperatives, and industrial and commercial firms. And of course having these different types of players generating power gives rise to an increase in administrative requirements.

What would you say is currently the biggest challenge in expanding renewables?

Matthias: The approval process, without a shadow of a doubt. I was recently at a conference in Hamburg: It currently takes five years on average for a wind turbine to go through the approval process in Germany. That’s too long. But, don’t get me wrong, the people working at the authorities aren’t the ones to blame – the official bodies are quite simply understaffed. When you think about what we’re in the process of doing: We’re not just overhauling the energy system of one of the world’s biggest industrial nations – we’re doing so in a short space of time.

Before you became an entrepreneur, you were a professional volleyball and beach volleyball player. Did your sports career teach you anything that’s helped you as an entrepreneur?

Matthias: To achieve success, you need perseverance. To a certain extent, that’s also true when it comes to transitioning to renewables. As entrepreneurs, we were quick to spot the untapped potential in decentralised power generation. In Germany, it’s not the technical implementation that’s the problem, it’s the complexity of the regulatory framework. We need easier access. We’re firm believers in what we do. We believe in renewable energies meeting our power needs. And, for the sake of future generations, that can’t come soon enough.

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