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Interview with Digital Renewables

Tuesday, 18 August 2020

DIGITAL renewables is a Hamburg-based start-up who provide a digital marketplace for a variety of renewable energy products. We recently had the opportunity to interview three key members of the team - Jens, Lukas and Volker who further explained the core principles behind the company, and their role in the renewables field.

1.        Give us a brief origins story for your company, how you and your founding members got started.

DIGITAL renewables was founded by the three of us. We got to know each other through a project in our network. It started as a Schnapsidee (crazy idea) to enable the economy becoming the ‘hero’ of the energy transition at a time where we all noticed how difficult it is for companies sourcing climate solutions, especially renewable energy.

The challenges and obstacles for all market participants were so obvious to us that we have considered how we can support the realization and simplification of supply and demand for the customers. Soon it became clear to us that we could only create valuable and scalable solutions through digitalization.

We are very fortunate that we have diverse expertise, a holistic view and and an understanding of the market and digitalization, so we could find the best solutions with a very customer-centric approach. Now it´s not a crazy idea anymore and we´re well on the way to making a contribution to stop climate change by supporting the customers to reach their goals.

2.       What is the scope of your RE marketplace, in terms of geographical reach and market capitalisation?

Our current focus is exclusively on Germany due to the full-service approach and very different regulatory requirements with sufficient complexity and special features in every single market. Our first expansion to other relevant European markets starts in 2021.

3.       You cover a wide range of products in your RE marketplace, including insurance services for PPAs. What is your target group and which problems in the renewables industry are you solving?

We’ve learned in the last years that, from our perspective, there is no stereotypical target group within the field of renewable energy and energy efficiency. Our aim is to provide the best possible matching/solution for all parties involved. And we only charge for our services when a deal is successfully closed.

In short, the DIGITAL renewables marketplace is the first-mover enabling climate solutions for mid-sized companies.

For example, our marketplace offers a standardized, aligned PPA contract and the chance for all participants, including experts, analysts, traders, banks, insurance companies, operations & maintenance departments as well as offtakers, to find their individual counterparty and value. In the field of the PPA matching our main target groups are energy suppliers (project developer, IPP) and buyers (Utilities/Corporates as well as mid-sized companies).

4.       In your GO offerings, there are a number of young Norwegian small hydro plants. How popular are these with the German market?

Young, green GoOs have an impact on the energy transition. They are an element of the financing of PPAs and contribute to the implementation and continuation of the project. More than just “green power” - we call them Impact GoOs.

To categorize transparently every GoO producing asset is the first step and the best solution on the renewable journey until local, green PPAs are able to meet the demand. We can also see in Germany that the green energy market gradually becoming more transparent to the customers and that will force the corporates and utilities to source higher-quality green certificates. This leads to an increase in the demand for impact GoOs, apparent even as recent as the last few weeks of July.

5.       Your company name reveals that you are strongly focused on digitalization. What is behind it and is there as defined digital market?

After all, digitization currently seems to be considered the cure for nearly everything.

However, we have gained an understanding of how the processes have been in the past in the area of renewable energy and efficiency and have compared this with the requirements of customers and the capital market.

In order to solve the existing challenges and, above all, to make the projects more time- and cost efficient, we have defined suitable digital solutions. We build and implement these solutions jointly with our respective technology experts. In addition to the existing challenges, further requirements are constantly being added by politics and society which we can solve promptly for all customer groups thanks to digitization.

At the outset, we mentioned that DIGITAL renewables want to put mid-sized companies in a position to become heroes of the energy transition. Digitization will then serve as a helper on this path.

 From our point of view there is no specifically defined market for digitisation in the field of renewable energy & efficiency, but in all a targeted process and user-tailored digitisation can support and thus take a legitimate role.

In times of climate goals, science-based targets, sustainable finance, taxonomy and shift in consumer behaviour for example, our clients need digital support to fulfil the challenges and requirements of these non-core complexities.

6.       The Covid pandemic has suppressed demand for energy and along with it green commodities. Has digital renewables noted any other trends with their consumer preferences?

Unfortunately, Covid did not pass us without leaving a mark. Especially at the beginning of the crisis in Q1 2020 orders were postponed. Currently there is an improvement and the request across all products is increasing over expectations. We recognize that, driven by the consumer and the EU, green commodities and climate solutions becoming essential for the capital market and their KPIs.

7.       Is there anything in particular we should look forward to from Digital Renewables in the next 12 months?

Yes, absolutely!

We used the past few months intensively in order to react to the changed and nowadays very dynamic market conditions. We are in the position now to gradually rollout our products to our customers. After having launched the green certificates marketplace our current focus is driven by offtaker requests and needs on the PPA segment, as well as the financing and project sales modules. Therefore, we’re working hand in hand with our technology partner delivering products supporting all stakeholders on the value chain within renewable energy.

In addition, we are working in a consortium with relevant players to provide climate solutions especially for German medium-sized businesses.