You are here: Home › From Small-Scale PV to Utility 2.0

From Small-Scale PV to Utility 2.0

   Jul 29, 2018
Credit : GMI Post

Look at the numbers: In 2017, new solar power projects around the world reached a total of 98 gigawatts. That was more than the net addition from coal, gas and nuclear plants combined. Many of these new projects were small-scale photovoltaic (PV) installations, which are increasing because of lower prices, cheaper equipment, government subsidies and power purchase agreements (PPAs). Take Germany for example. A mature market, the average cost-per-watt has fallen below $1.68. With all of these incentives, shouldn’t every roof have a PV system by now?

ENVIRIA CEO and Co-founder Melchior Schulze Brock points out that current arrangements are flawed: “They target owners of surfaces suitable for PV projects, such as real estate funds, agricultural or manufacturing companies. But the return on investment is low. On top of that, the complexity involved—buying the technology, outsourcing installment and operating the system—simply doesn’t justify such a non-core investment.”

ENVIRIA founders Ronny Thorenz (left) and Melchior Schulze Brock (right)

On the other hand, there are private and institutional investors who are looking for safe ways to invest their money but do not own a space or structure to place a PV system.

“Those types of investors appreciate low yields because cash flows are often guaranteed by the government or a large rated utility. You have different entities with complimentary wishes and objectives, and that’s a lot of untapped potential,” explained Partner Ronny Thorenz.

Using their investment banking expertise, Schulze Brock and Thorenz set up ENVIRIA to bridge that gap. Their revolutionary concept rests on a specialized solar investment manager, who leases a space from the property owner for a fee—typically over a 20-year period—and installs the technology at their own cost, supplies the owner with electricity, while feeding excess power into the grid and making a return.

Under the arrangement, the property owner reaps the benefits without the hassle. All liability lies with the operator, who takes care of the entire process, installs state-of-the-art PV and energy storage systems, delivers ancillary services, such as operation and management solutions, and provides comprehensive insurance for all systems.

In 2014, Schulze Brock and Thorenz founded ENVIRIA’s predecessor, MeinSolarKonzept. With its innovative approach, the company was adept at securing commercial rooftop space and attracting investments from banks and private investors. Last year, they incorporated their preferred engineering, procurement and construction subcontractor and formed ENVIRIA, based in downtown Frankfurt, Germany.

With an established residential portfolio in Germany, Austria and Switzerland, ENVIRIA propelled itself to become an industry powerhouse, with more than 3,000 completed rooftop projects that are generating a total of more than 25 megawatts since the incorporation with its subcontractor last year.

As Germany prepares to shift away from a subsidized feed-in tariff, Schulze Brock and Thorenz are making sure to stay ahead of the game and are expanding abroad to countries where solar deployment is booming. Having opened its new office in Hong Kong last year, ENVIRIA is setting its sights on other countries, such as the U.S., Australia and the Philippines.

In Australia, which has seen a three-fold increase in renewable energy investment and a surge in PV projects in recent years, the firm is in talks with large corporations and city councils attracted by its investment-driven model, and is offering them a pipeline of 10 megawatts worth of projects ready for a quick rollout.

ENVIRIA's Mu?llheim 1 Project in southern Germany

Constantly looking for innovative ways to streamline the business, the two entrepreneurs keep thinking ahead. The firm's rapid expansion of small scale solar systems, most of which have the capacity to store energy, has a far-reaching goal.

Coupling technology with financial expertise, Schulze Brock and Thorenz aim to transform ENVIRIA into a utility in its own right. Their vision is to facilitate direct green energy trade among its customers. They call it “Utility 2.0,” a decentralized system that combines production and storage where customer-to-customer transactions are enabled through blockchain technology.

Within the system, daily electricity surplus produced can be saved for individual future use or directly sold to other ENVIRIA customers. This will create a more efficient electricity marketplace as it provides an individualized solution that allows flexibility based on consumption needs.

Later this year, Schulze Brock and Thorenz are releasing a highly anticipated white paper, which will illustrate the uses of a utility-based cryptocurrency being conceptualized and enumerate its advantages. The cryptocurrency should gain strength with the launch of each new project and simultaneously rebate customers based on production. Funding will go to develop more projects around the world.

The ultimate aim is to offer competitive energy pricing, especially in disadvantaged communities where investment is scarce but whose needs are far more significant.

With its inquisitive mindset, sweeping expansion and visionary digital currency, ENVIRIA is clearly one company to watch.

Toyama’s rich industrial culture marked by innovation, flexibility and change

The circular rings found in cut tree trunks are said to age a tree and tell its story. A visit to the Uozu Buried Forest ...

Rebuilding the nation and the region

The 14th General Election last May was intense and Malaysians will remember it long after the settles. Not only will they remember the gruelling mo...

Western Australian council is first adopter of Datacom's new local government technology

Datacom has rolled out the first phase of its customer service system for the town of Manjimup in Western Australia. Kicking off with Service Reque...

U.K. firms find Brexit reality involves more red tape and less control

With the country now out of the European Union, companies that trade with the continent are contending with expensive disruptions to their businesses.

Philippines' top EdTech startup secures Series A funding as it boosts reach and engagement

Edukasyon, the leading education technology platform in the Philippines, recently closed its Series A financing round, joined by Asian and European...

Japanese carmakers: A vital part of the U.S. economy

Over nearly four decades, Japanese-brand automakers have built up a vast American presence. It has made a cumulative manufacturing investment of ab...

The uneasy state of Japan’s welfare system

The LDP and business community have been undermining Japan's lifetime employment system in order to make it easier for employers to hire and fire, ...

Malaysia: A fresh start

Ten months since historic elections that rocked the nation’s political landscape, Malaysia, once again headed by Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, i...

SilTerra: Defining tomorrow in Malaysia today

Globally ranked 16th by Gartner in the pure-play foundries category, SilTerra clearly punches above its weight. Originally set up in 1995 as a semi...

latest special Reports:

Upcoming Reports from




  • Global Media is your partner in reaching a powerful international audience through high-level economic reporting.

    Our ambition is to highlight under-reported developments and opportunities around the world, and allow leaders in these regions and sectors to take their message to the highest global level. We partner with top media to communicate with the world’s most powerful audiences. We specialize in communication and branding initiatives that help our clients effectively get their messages to their existing and potential partners. We achieve results for our clients by introducing them and their initiatives to an audience of elite international business and government leaders.

    Global Media Inc. is an independent media agency with offices in Hong Kong and Canada. GMI has more than a decade of experience in the writing, researching, and production of promotional country reports, with media partners from East Asia to North America. We have teams worldwide that develop country and thematic reports on the latest economic trends and developments.

    We are a media partner of Foreign Affairs,the United States’ most influential publication, published by the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

    Nearly a century old, there isn’t a more influential or higher-reaching publication in the United States than Foreign Affairs. The journal is ranked #1 in influence by U.S. opinion leaders in a recent nationwide study conducted by Erdos and Morgan, the premier business-to-business research firm. Their findings place Foreign Affairs ahead of all media, both print and broadcast, including The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Economist, and The Washington Post.

    Testimonials:

    “We were extremely impressed with how efficient, well-coordinated, responsive and reliable the Global Media Inc. team was. We owe them a lot for their professionalism. We were very pleased with the outcome, and the article was very well-written. We hope to have an opportunity to work with Global Media Inc. again in the near future.� – Japan Airport Terminal Co. Ltd.
    “The Global Media team’s professionalism was excellent. Their team was great and always gave us the right suggestions and information. The product was excellent, and we were very happy to have such a great opportunity working with their excellent team.â€� – National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies (GRIPS)
    “We were honored to be chosen as one of the good universities in Japan. This article conveyed Seigakuin University’s educational ideals and the message from President Akudo. The advertisement was conspicuous and gave a good impression that Seigakuin nurtured students to contribute to world peace. We really appreciated what Global Media Inc. had did for us.â€� – Seigakuin University

    Whom we have featured:

    • Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard
    • Australian Foreign Affairs Minister (and former Prime Minister) Kevin Rudd
    • Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe
    • Qatari Minister of International Trade and Industry Dato’ Sri Mustapa bin Mohamed
    • Japanese Minister of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology Yoshiaki Takaki
    • Taiwanese Foreign Minister Yang Chin-Tien
    • Taiwanese Finance Minister Lee Sush-Der
    • Taiwanese Economic Affairs Minister Shih Yen-Shiang
    • Taiwanese National Science Council Minister Lee Lou-Chuang,
    • Taiwanese Deputy Minister of Transport and Communications Yeh Kuang-Shih
    • Taiwanese Political Deputy Minister of Education Dr. Lin Tsong-Ming
    • Indonesian Ambassador to the United States Dr. Dino Patti Djalal
    • Indonesian Investment Coordinating Board Chairman Gita Wirjawan
    • Philippine President Benigno S. Aquino III
    • Philippine Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile

Join our newsletter

Sign up for our weekly newsletter to get the latest news and updates directly to your inbox.