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Andreas Booke & David Balensiefen: Providing Scalable Infrastructure To Connect and Control Distributed Energy Resources

gridX is a leading smart grid company with over 70 employees across two offices in Munich and Aachen. Our digital energy platform, XENON, provides scalable infrastructure to connect and control distributed energy resources. gridX uses edge and cloud services to provide digital solutions for smart charging and energy management to make renewable energy accessible to all, independent of manufacturers. These customizable solutions dynamically distribute available energy, intelligently optimize charging processes and ensure that peak loads are avoided.

Tell us about yourself?

We both studied engineering at the RWTH Aachen University and we met in a founder’s group as we were both always interested in entrepreneurial activities and changing the status quo.

Andreas: I grew up near Europe’s second largest emitter of carbon emissions, a lignite mining area in Garzweiler in northern Germany. This meant I saw the effects of greenhouse gas emissions from a young age and was always questioning how we could switch to more sustainable sources of energy. After gaining technical experience in IoT and cloud technologies I realized I could use this expertise to actually enable the energy transition and help bring innovation to a very outdated industry.

David: I did my internship in an open pit coal mine and this made me realize the absurdity of digging for inefficient materials to burn for energy. We have so many clean energy sources available to us but because the energy industry is slow to adapt, we still rely heavily on dirty energy sources that produce almost three quarters of all global carbon emissions. I knew then that I wanted to do something that would have a big impact on the industry to enable the energy transition, which was happening far too slowly for my liking.

What is the inspiration behind your business?

Andreas: After we finished our studies, we traveled together to Ecuador. Here we really noticed how unreliable centralized energy generation based on fossil fuels was. We saw so many villages with limited access to power, which has a huge affect on people’s lives. This is where the idea to connect and control Distributed Energy Resources (DERs) like solar panels, batteries, heat pumps and electric cars first arose – to make energy cleaner, but also more flexible, efficient and reliable.

David: We sketched out a plan of our idea of an IoT solution for energy on a napkin, which we actually still have. When we came back to Germany, we developed the idea further, made our first version of a gridBox and started looking into funding opportunities to turn our idea into a reality.

What is your magic sauce?

Andreas: I really think the people at gridX have enabled us to get where we are today. Our entire team is aligned on the vision to develop cutting-edge solutions that accelerate the energy transition. We call ourselves the gridX family and we really pride ourselves on working together as a team and focusing on the impact of our solutions.

David: I completely agree. We have gotten a lot of support from the wider energy community, which is testament to how hard our team has worked to provide solutions that were previously missing from the energy market. We aim to have a company where people really enjoy and value their work and can see the benefit of what they do each day.

Where do you see your company going in 5 years time?

Andreas: We aim for XENON to be the most powerful platform to build and run energy applications. We want to become the standard operating system for the energy industry – or in other words, AWS for energy. In a broader sense, we want to redefine and finally bring some level of standardization to energy systems.

David: To achieve this we will extend the use cases of our platform beyond eMobility and home energy management systems to do more work in grid operations, virtual power plants, and energy trading. With this wider scope, the impact of our solutions also increases.

What has been your biggest setback so far?

Andreas: One of our steepest learning curves was changing the target group of our platform from end users to companies. We realized that a B2B focus would allow us to more easily increase our reach. Luckily, however, this transition happened early on in our development and we were able to quickly redirect the strategy and setup of the company to ensure success in a B2B context.

David: By using the networks we had built up and being receptive to feedback from professionals in the industry, we have always responded in an agile manner to adapt our offering to maximize reach and impact. So we have been lucky to have a pretty steady growth curve and not too many setbacks in our journey.

What is the next big challenge for your business?

Andreas: I don’t see it as a challenge but the next step for us is offering a self-service platform that enables companies to build their own energy applications in just a few clicks. Stay tuned for more news on that in early 2022!

How do people get involved/buy into your vision?

David: All stakeholders in the energy industry, from energy providers to equipment manufacturers across electricity, heating and mobility can benefit from our solutions. Companies should get in touch to see how they can use our modular platform to best meet their needs and ensure they remain future-proof in a rapidly changing landscape.

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