Inter­view with Chris­t­ian Münch of Bay­Wa r.e.

We made the Change­mak­ers edi­tion of Reimag­ine Ener­gy all about explor­ing the busi­ness­es and their lead­ers who have paved the way for change in the ener­gy sec­tor. In a series of inter­views, we spoke to those who are tak­ing risks with­in tra­di­tion­al indus­tries and who are imple­ment­ing nec­es­sary change for ulti­mate good.

In the third inter­view, we speak to Chris­t­ian Münch of Bay­Wa r.e.

We will soon be able to devel­op large-scale PV with­out any subsidies.”

Name: Chris­t­ian Münch

Posi­tion: Head of Part­ner Sales & E‑Commerce Bay­Wa r.e. Solar Ener­gy Sys­tems GmbH 

Back­ground: Renew­able ener­gy sector

  • Sus­tain­abil­i­ty con­sul­tan­cy, then busi­ness devel­op­ment for Phoenix Solar
  • Joined Bay­Wa r.e. as Head of Busi­ness Development
  • Tran­si­tioned to lead­ing the Part­ner Sales & E‑Commerce Division
Christian Münch, BayWa r.e.

Bay­Wa r.e. has com­mis­sioned renew­able ener­gy plants that gen­er­ate 2 GW of pow­er, and also man­ages plants that pro­vide 5.5 GW of ener­gy. How do we find the right bal­ance between small-scale dis­trib­uted pow­er and such larg­er plants?
You need to look at each coun­try indi­vid­u­al­ly. For instance, with solar, you’re look­ing at reg­u­la­tions, how much space is avail­able, what the grid infra­struc­ture is like, whether decen­tral­ized, small-scale PV instal­la­tion can help to sta­bi­lize the grid in coun­tries with a low­er lev­el of sub­struc­ture, and also the elec­tric­i­ty costs. In some coun­tries, rooftop PV instal­la­tion can be very use­ful due to high end-cus­tomer ener­gy prices, but espe­cial­ly in the south of Europe or in Africa, there is space, a rel­a­tive­ly high elec­tric­i­ty pro­duc­tion cost and high solar radi­a­tion, so you can pro­duce solar ener­gy for the grid at low cost.

What does the future of large-scale renew­ables devel­op­ment look like?
We will soon be able to devel­op large-scale PV with­out any sub­si­dies. Last year, we had the first 175 MW solar plant in the south of Spain with­out any pub­lic sub­si­dies, and we’re plac­ing this ener­gy on the pub­lic mar­ket. This will be pos­si­ble for more OECD coun­tries in the next year, and as the tech­nol­o­gy prices con­tin­ue to decline, the pro­duc­tion cost of elec­tric­i­ty will con­tin­ue to decrease. For this rea­son, it will be pos­si­ble to devel­op large-scale plants with­out sub­si­dies in Ger­many or oth­er Cen­tral Euro­pean coun­tries with­out sub­si­dies in the next four or five years.

What are the biggest mis­takes you’re see­ing with com­pa­nies try­ing to change their busi­ness to adapt to dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies?
“The biggest mis­take is not prepar­ing for dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies dur­ing times when your busi­ness is run­ning smooth­ly and when the rev­enues are good. This is the time when you can pre­pare for dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies, but this is also space where you often only focus on your cur­rent busi­ness mod­el – the mis­take is miss­ing the chance to pre­pare for new tech­nolo­gies and busi­ness mod­els by stay­ing in your com­fort zone too long. You also need to allow your­self to make mis­takes. Devel­op­ment moves fast in a rapid­ly dig­i­tal­iz­ing world with dis­rup­tive tech­nolo­gies, so if you don’t try some­thing out, you just won’t know if it will work.“

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Kiwigrid and Bay­Wa r.e. – Scal­ing a busi­ness model 

Togeth­er with Bay­Wa r.e.’s solar and bat­tery instal­la­tions, Kiwigrid’s home ener­gy man­age­ment sys­tems, ener­gy data ana­lyt­ics and fur­ther fea­tures will give cus­tomers the option of a com­plete smart home sys­tem for res­i­den­tial users.

Towards the end of 2019, expect a com­plete intel­li­gent home ener­gy sys­tem includ­ing a flat rate for house­hold elec­tric­i­ty. Intel­li­gent charg­ing and data-dri­ven upselling are also in the works. Bay­Wa r.e. will use the com­bined solu­tions to put togeth­er white-label ener­gy sys­tem pack­ages for munic­i­pal util­i­ties and pre­fab­ri­cat­ed house manufacturers.

The col­lab­o­ra­tion will allow Bay­Wa r.e. to expand its range of ener­gy solu­tions to include com­pre­hen­sive cov­er­age of the smart home mar­ket – includ­ing EV charg­ing – adding anoth­er scal­able busi­ness model.

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