Karsten Krämer (PRE): 
"In most cases, technology is not the limiting factor"

Which new technological trends in the energy industry are you keeping track of?

As a starting point, we keep track and estimate the impact of trends that are influencing our core business, i.e. electricity distribution and sales. However, we are not only looking at technological trends but also at socio-economic developments and changes in the regulatory framework. Taking the mega trend “digitalization” as an example, the possibility to offer digital end-to-end products (i.e. completely web-based) becomes only viable if the customer embraces this form of communication. In the same way, a smart gird can only be implemented, when it is recognized by regulation.

In a second step, we have a closer look to those influencers to our core business like decentralized power generation, e-mobility or the fuel-switch in heating (gas to power (heat pump)) to identify if and how, with our assets and skillset, we can make a difference in these markets.

In most cases, technology is not the limiting factor – it’s about making it happen. And this is when the cooperation between startups and PRE comes into play.

Besides energy, what else is PRE planning to offer households in the future?

Energy is our core, so all our offerings will be somehow connected to energy. However, beyond providing just electricity we go a step further: We support customers already today in producing and storing energy (photovoltaics and batteries), getting efficient heatings and using e-mobility-solutions. Later, we will offer also smart home solutions to make the aforementioned products interact. Important: Our target is not to develop own technology but to make world class solutions accessible to our customers (e.g. through localization and installation services, financing, …).

Why did you choose particularly this subject as your task? What other plans do you have with the submitted projects?

We do a lot of business with households and have strong foundations like a trustworthy brand and customer knowledge to build on. So for us, it is about bringing a startup’s idea or product together with our customer base – first through a joint pilot, then through a local implementation and finally the idea is to offer it to every of the 5.5m customers of the EnBW-Group (EnBW is one of PRE’s shareholders).

We are however aware that this is unlikely to happen right away. So for us it is important to get to know each other closer, stay in touch to learn from each other and to vitalize the relationship once there is a match.

What kind of start-ups have already worked with you as part of your Innovationscampus? What results have you achieved by joining your efforts?

At the Karlsruhe based Innovationscampus we are interacting with a lot of startups of the energy scene focussing on digital life, smart city, sustainable mobility, virtual power plant and industry 4.0.

We have deepened relationships up to having taken a minority share with some of them. Two examples:

  • DZ-4 offers carefree rooftop PV Systems and battery storage with a price guarantee for ten years without own investment. DZ-4 products are now being pushed through the EnBW sales machine in Germany and we are thinking about transferring the service to the Czech Republic.
  • Lumenaza provides a powerful operations platform that dramatically diminishes the set up costs for a utility, making crazy stuff like locally sourced/locally offered electricity tariffs possible. First live product of this cooperation is IPFenergie (ipf-energie.de<http://ipf-energie.de>)