2021 – What a year! The coronavirus pandemic is still heavily impacting public life, energy prices continue to rise, and natural catastrophes remind us how quickly climate change is advancing. The fact that powercloud has enjoyed such outstanding development in this challenging environment makes us very proud – though, in a way, this is a logical progression, since we see ourselves as “facilitators” of the digital energy revolution, part of the foundation for the CO2 neutral society and economy we want to create.
The coronavirus pandemic has continued to upend all of our lives in 2021 and has posed unforeseen challenges for many companies – such as utilities. On the one hand, they faced a general drop in profit margins in light of the difficult economic situation, while on the other they contended with business-related challenges as part of the ongoing energy shift, such as creating new kinds of products, more flexible tariffs in general, or implementing a broad-scale smart meter rollout.
New products for the energy market of the future
At the same time, the challenges surrounding climate change and digitalization are enormous. Phasing out coal, increasing solar power and wind energy – for utilities, this means that the energy market will continue to change, for instance in terms of products which are composed of digitalized energy services, including energy management, storage, e-mobility, and many others.
Storage solutions, smart charging, and more
Tesla’s entry into the German electricity market and the new solutions available from VW subsidiary Elli offer a preview of what we can expect to see in the coming years. At Elli, for example, the focus is on app-based control of the charging process, where the client only has to enter their desired departure time in advance. A smart charging function then optimizes the process. What’s more, clients also collect points with which they can reduce their electricity bill by up to 100 euros a year. The news that VW intends to equip its electric cars with a bi-directional charging function is likewise interesting. This would allow a driver who produces “too much” electricity on the drive home via the solar system, for instance, to use the car battery as short-term storage that the driver can then “tap into” as needed. Other examples outside the world of automotive design illustrate the dynamic capabilities of energy storage. Sonnen GmbH, for instance, has already delivered more than 40,000 intelligent battery storage units for photovoltaic systems. This technology makes it possible to form decentralized energy communities, which offer their members the opportunity to self-generate, store, and share energy with other members. SENEC, a subsidiary of EnBW, is also pursuing an innovative approach to the sale and generation of renewable energy. They offer solar modules, home battery storage and wallboxes, which are integrated with the SENEC.Cloud. Specifically: If you generate more electricity than you need in the summer, you can feed the surplus into the SENEC.Cloud. In the less sunny winter months, you get it back. In this way, the customer is less exposed to rising electricity prices.
Overall, the general digitization of the energy market continued to pick up speed in 2021 – along with the economic development of powercloud. We added a range of new customers, such as the Uelzen municipal utilities, SachsenEnergie, Ostrom, EWII, Elli, and e.optimum. Having our bid accepted to implement a new Thüga billing platform was a particularly important success. Alongside Accenture as general contractor and multiple technological partners, we are developing a back-end and front-end solution for the market roles of supplier, grid and metering station operator, for a total of 38 municipal utilities with around 15.5 million metering points, all under the umbrella of TAP. We are also very proud that we successfully completed large data migrations for customers such as E.ON and Lichtblick on our platform this year. In addition, the number of industry partners, start-ups, Fintechs and global technological companies offering their expertise via apps in our powerApp store is growing. With their help, the powercloud is becoming a cross-industry interactive platform. Together, the participants compile new experiences that are incorporated into technological innovations and used to establish new products.
Transformed into a global software company
Our formula for success can be summarized as follows: We have a universal platform solution that adapts continuously to the challenges of the future. This ensures investment security and competitiveness. The powerApp store, along with other tools, makes this possible. This opens up a world of possibilities for companies, with which they can react quickly to changes in markets and infrastructure – and all without expensive IT projects! The specific app can simply be booked along with the core functions of the powercloud to use new functions.
Since being founded in 2012 powercloud has enjoyed consistent growth. However, the year 2021 was a very special one for the company, as we converted from a Black Forest start-up into an international software company, which today has seven locations around the world — in Offenburg, Leipzig, Berlin, Madrid, Milan, Paris, and Atlanta. In addition, after hiring over 100 new employees our workforce today comprises more than 300 employees working for our success with creativity and passion. Having our headquarters located close to France is a unique advantage in this context, since we are able to recruit many experts from the neighboring country and have French-speaking resources – which, in turn, has a positive impact on customer acquisition in France. The country is an important market for us. Overall, we are taking a two-track approach: continuing our strong growth within Germany and adding a large number of municipal utilities, in particular, to our customer base, while at the same time generating interest among municipal utilities in America and Australia for our solution, helping them speed up their digitization.
New IT campus as security for the future
The issue of “sustainability” is likewise part of our corporate positioning. The best example for this is the construction of our new IT campus in Achern, for which the groundbreaking ceremony was held on July 1st. Construction and the move to the new powercloud company headquarters are scheduled for completion in 2024. In the future, the property will have its own photovoltaic system to supply power, along with electricity storage solutions. Heating and cooling are supplied via heating networks, which include biomass and large-scale heat pumps. A special mobility concept also in the mix includes e-car and e-bike sharing plus a public transport service that has also developed further. The goal behind all these steps is to create a CO2-neutral residential and commercial district for around 350 IT and software experts who will be able to help us convince many other talented workers to come to Achern – including from abroad. This is an important factor for our future development. Because of this, our plans address new work/life concepts, streamlined intercultural exchange, and ensuring a good balance between career and family life. Specifically, this means, for example, that workers can do some of their work at home at any time and can reach the workplace quickly when needed. Families from different countries should be able to find their way around the area easily, and connect work, leisure activities, school and kindergarten easily as well.
Marco Beicht is the only German to be ranked as one of the “Top 50 SaaS CEOs”
In addition, we are already one of the ten most attractive employers among Germany’s software start-ups, at least according to Business Punk! and Statista. We were also proud to learn that our founder and CEO Marco Beicht is the only German to be ranked as one of the “Top 50 SaaS CEOs” by American trade magazine “Software Report”. This rankings list includes only CEOs of rapidly growing, innovative software companies with strong leadership and a visionary approach. Ultimately, these awards are indicators that we are on the right path as the fastest growing billing system for the energy sector in Germany. We now want to achieve the same thing in other countries as well. We are convinced that this will allow us to make a key contribution to the climate revolution, while helping many companies. We will also be celebrating our 10-year company anniversary next year, for which we are planning something special for all of our employees, partners, and customers. We look forward to the event very much and hope that the pandemic does not interfere too greatly with the planning. With or without the pandemic, our motto remains the same: “Stay different.”