24. August 2017

Let the sun shine in!

How an energy provider and Google are coming up with new business models

Here’s a thought: If you know something that may be valuable to me, why don’t we team up and see what we can accomplish? To determine the possible revenues from solar collectors and to show how profitable they can be, energy provider Eon is using Google data. That’s how two partners who seem a little ill-matched came up with win-win model.

The future has arrived – and it’s profitable

For quite some time, green energy was eyed suspiciously by big energy companies. While eco-minded enterprises such as Lichtblick, EWS Schönau and Greenpeace Energy set up and expanded the market for renewable energy, the established companies took a “wait and see”-approach. Unfortunately for them, the “waiting” part took so long that they fell behind – ecologically and economically. But now Eon and Google are entering the market with an attractive concept.

Of course, Google is still the world-leading internet search engine, but within the last few years the company has also established their brands Google Maps and Google Earth. Nobody knows planet earth from above as well as the American internet giant, nobody has a better data pool. Which is what Eon is now taking advantage of. After the user types in the address in question, the platform Sunroof calculates how profitable a solar installation could be, using the data Google has made available. And an Eon-offer for a suitable system is only a mouse click away.

Making money with solar collectors

Google is contributing the data concerning roof slopes and average duration of sunshine, Eon calculates the earnings. And since nearly every calculation results in a profit, the temptation to apply for an offer is great. Even though the big profits of the past have been reduced somewhat, there is still money to be earned with private photovoltaic facilities. Financial investments are not yielding interests and many Germans are avoiding speculative investments, making investing in a private power plant an attractive proposition. The clean energy can either be used immediately, stored for later use or fed into the grid. The guaranteed long-term revenues are way higher than the paltry interest rates offered now.

In that respect, renewable energies are a genuine financial topic – and it is rather telling an energy provider is first off the mark, and not a bank. It seems that the growth momentum of this sector as well as feed-in rates and state subsidies are not all that well known within the finance sector.

Thinking outside the box yields profits

Of course, generating power isn’t part of the standard range of products offered by banks and financial institutes. But renewable energies are a success story and vital to overcoming the climate change. It is a business sector with

  • a lot of potential for the future
  • robust profit expectations and
  • a continuous need for investments.

Basically, all the right ingredients for a worthwhile financial product. And what would have been more obvious than a bank familiarizing itself with it? This is not a manned space flight to Mars we’re talking about, just simple solar installations. With a suitable partner, this problem could be easily solved – the partner contributes knowledge like data, innovations and technology, while the bank supplies the capital and develops the brand as well as marketing platforms. Thus, the future-oriented field of private solar collectors could have been a very profitable enterprise. It also would have had a high potential for image purposes.

Undoubtedly financial investments and the safekeeping of investments will continue to be the main areas of business for banks. But why not utilize the digitisation of nearly all industry sectors? Thinking outside the box could lead the way to wholly new products.

Photo: see next page

Fotocredit: Bundesverband Solarwirtschaft e.V.

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