Our new series of blog posts introduces this year’s participants of Japan Energy Challenge. We spoke with Christian Chudoba, CEO of Lumenaza, on the role his company can play in the future of Japan’s energy market.
The “utility-in-a-box” software answers the increasing demand for transparency and personalization by energy customers, as well as the trend towards building communities and delivering tailor-made solutions to its participants. There is a significant amount of interest surrounding these technologies, so we’ll try to shed some light into what makes Lumenaza stand out from the rest.
Can you tell us a bit about the company and its founders?
The idea for Lumenaza was inspired by a family party in southern Germany. We realised there was a high availability of decentralized energy production, but no way of buying this locally produced electricity. In response, I founded Lumenaza together with Bernhard Böhmer in February 2013. Both of us had previously worked for Siemens and have substantial experience in the telecoms sector. After developing the software platform to directly connect producers and consumers of electricity in the same region, we launched the first regional electricity projects in 2014. Since then, we have further developed the software platform, now offering a utility-in-a-box solution. The growth of the platform is also reflected in the number and relevance of clients. Lumenaza now works with three of out four large German utilities such as E.ON, EnBW or Vattenfall. Moreover, we launched the first projects outside of Germany for example in Sweden and the United Kingdom. In addition, large PV/battery distributors as well as a well-known international battery manufacturer that was previously acquired, are among our customer base.
How does your solution fit within the wider trends of Digitalisation and Decarbonisation in the energy sector?
The energy market has changed. Before, there was a centralized production of energy, production and demand were rather easy to forecast. With the rise of renewables, these prerequisites have changed. What we have seen in the telecommunications industry with the rapid growth of mobile phones is now repeated in the energy system: a high number of devices, in this case distributed energy resources, need to be integrated. At the same time, the amount of data has increased dramatically. The existing legacy was not able to handle these parameters. This is where we come in: our software is scalable and highly flexible. We are able to take over different roles in the energy market – based on our customers’ needs. With that approach, we enable market participants to become green digital utilities. Moreover, our platform empowers market participants to realize future-proof business models with our software, such as energy communities. These business models enable households and communities: for the first time, they can truly participate in the energy market. Not only production and consumption of energy become much more transparent, but customers and prosumers are in control and have a choice. They are able to see the impact of their local energy production and their contribution to protecting the environment. Eventually, these developments also contribute to the decarbonisation of the energy sector: Lumenaza helps to integrate renewables and offer intelligent solutions. By increasing the share of renewables, we contribute directly to lowering CO2 emissions.
Are there milestones you are particularly proud to have achieved as a company?
One important milestone for us was certainly the first project outside of Germany last year. We worked with E.ON to visualise data flows for a local energy community in the south of Sweden. We see a lot of interest for our solution both in, but also outside of Europe. We are very proud to contribute to the worldwide energy transition with our software.
Let’s look at Japan Energy Challenge’s scope: what specifically attracted you about the prospect of expanding to the Japanese market?
Both for Japan and Germany, the same incident was decisive: After the events of Fukushima, both countries decided to decrease the dependence on nuclear power. Looking at the overall market structure, Japan and Germany are quite similar. We are looking into creating local energy communities and peer-to-peer-based models in Japan. Compared to aggregators that aim to market electricity from large power plants, we focus on small scale decentralized generation. We can offer profitable solutions for up-to 2 million PV plants for which the guaranteed feed-in tariff has ended or will end pretty soon. Based on our software, we are able to connect producers and consumers in the same region through micro-grids to offer them a low-cost, local and renewable energy supply and make them highly independent. We are confident to replicate our success in Germany in Japan, helping to promote the integration of renewables, as well as optimising the local balancing, mitigating impacts to the grid and improving the resilience of the system against natural disasters.
And finally, how will your solution promote the expansion and modernisation of the Japanese energy sector?
By using intelligent software, Lumenaza helps to integrate renewables, provides a solution to the end of feed-in tariff for 2 million PV plants, exploring community-based peer-to-peer trading opportunities enabled by a local flexibility market balancing local generation and consumption. Lumenaza’s proposition maximises transparency in the customer engagement, provides flexibility and scalability to enable innovative energy services and commercial models, as well as support to market communication processes and interaction with the physical infrastructure to operate as self-sufficient microgrids.
As such, we believe our solution can be instrumental for the development of self-sufficient community microgrids, combining a mix of small to large scale energy sources, storage and demand-side-response. For the Japanese energy sector, this means increased renewables uptake both residential and scale, improved energy security for communities and minimised impact to the grid with the local balancing.
Lumenaza will be taking part in Japan Energy Challenge in London this year, you can read about the other companies taking part in this year’s edition here. You can also find out more about the program, ventures and sponsors by clicking the links.