Pioneers of the Energieküste. These are the people whose ideas and projects drive the energy transition.
This is no place for idle talk. On the Energy Coast we are working hard to solve the challenges of tomorrow. Targeted policy, research and consulting are the basis of our actions.
Value-added chains based entirely on renewable energies, 100% green city districts, partnerships across all sectors - on the Energy Coast the new world of energy is already becoming a reality. From the fields to the communities, from business start-ups to industry, on land and at sea - these and many other pioneers in your region make this region what it is. It is a place that paves the way to the future. For a future in which our energy system is 100% renewable.
“Geographically we’re at the edge of Germany, but we’re right at the centre of battery and storage technology.”
You are the managing director of Custom Cells Itzehoe GmbH. What brought you to Itzehoe on the Energy Coast?
I was born in Hamburg and began my doctoral work in chemistry at the Fraunhofer Institute for Silicon Technology (ISIT) in Itzehoe. At the same time, I was able to set up a production line for lithium-ion batteries. ISIT provides an excellent framework; it’s a hotbed of innovation in the region. For instance, CUSTOMCELLS® was created here in 2012.
CUSTOMCELLS® develops lithium-based storage technologies. What makes your company a pioneer in this area?
Lithium-ion batteries are a core technology for storage solutions. Since our founding in 2012, we have developed and manufactured application-specific lithium-ion batteries. We can customise the chemical composition of a cell to the customer’s exact specifications. We work for end users like the automotive industry, but also for research institutions. Our products are distributed worldwide, and our employees also come from all over to work at CUSTOMCELLS® on the Energy Coast.
What distinguishes the Energy Coast as a location?
Geographically we’re at the edge of Germany, but we’re right at the centre of battery and storage technology. We’re surrounded by the key markets of Denmark, Sweden and Norway, though our proximity to Hamburg and the companies there is also important. As a technology company, we collaborate very well with local and state politicians. We enjoy broad-based support and there is an active, cross-party exchange of ideas. This also rings true for our collaboration with the research institutions in the region. The conditions provided by the Energy Coast really are the total package for us. We hope this continues when it comes to supporting an energy-intensive gigafactory one day.
“We think energy production and use together, this is the only way sustainable solutions work.”
You are the managing director of GP Joule. What brings you to the Energy Coast?
I was born in North Frisia; more precisely, I am from Reußenköge, where also the headquarters of GP Joule are based now. My partner Heinrich Gärtner and I founded the company in 2009 with the vision that “100% of renewable energy is feasable”. Today, we have almost 290 employees working with us on achieving this goal. We are operating all across Western Europe, and are present with photovoltaics also in North America. The Energieküste has a very high level of innovative power, partly because Schleswig-Holstein is not a classic industrial state and we do not have to compete with other sectors. There is plenty of space for new ideas and development. s. And the region is not just a good place to work – it’s also a good place to live.
What makes your company a pioneer in renewable energy?
We think energy production and use together, this is the only way sustainable solutions work. GP JOULE is a project planner for solar and wind power plants on the Energieküste. On the other hand, we develop new ways of using these quantities of electricity. Sector coupling, which has been one of our special fields for years, is of particular importance. We would like to bring electricity to sectors that have so far mainly used fossil energy, for example mobility, heat and industry. This is where hydrogen comes into play now.
What distinguishes the Energieküste as a location?
On the Energieküste, opportunities were sought very early on to drive forward the energy turnaround. The latest innovation on the energy coast is our “eFarm” pilot project. The largest green hydrogen mobility project in Germany to date shows how wind and sun can be used to produce tankable hydrogen and heat. We are building a hydrogen infrastructure from production to processing and use for mobility. The waste heat generated during electrolysis is also used regionally to heat buildings. This is how innovation works on the Energieküste.
“Its prime location and connection to large offshore wind farms make the west coast a true model for the energy transition.”
Prof. Dr. Katja Kuhn
You are the president of the FH Westküste University of Applied Sciences in Heide. What brought you here from Stuttgart?
“Energy supply systems of the future” is a common theme at FH Westküste University. Our bachelor’s and master’s study courses educate the specialists who will help shape the future of the energy transition. We are creating a real beacon of research with the Institute for the Transformation of the Energy System (ITE). As an interdisciplinary research and transfer centre for energy transition technologies on the west coast of Schleswig-Holstein, this institute will also grow to have nationwide significance.
Is that what makes the FH a pioneer?
In part, yes. We place great importance on having a close exchange with the professional world. This means that we don’t conduct scientific activities in an ivory tower – our teaching and research are directly, practically relevant. We confront the current issues that apply to the “energy supply systems of the future”.
In your view, what does the Energy Coast stand for? What distinguishes the location?
The energy region on the west coast stands for decades of experience in the conversion of energy supply systems to renewable energy sources, especially wind energy. It stands for innovation in applying new technologies such as power-to-X solutions that use hydrogen. Its prime location and connection to large offshore wind farms and its proximity to Hamburg make the west coast a true model for the energy transition. Apart from the excellent location, another advantage is the strong network of players on the west coast. The close collaboration between national research associations, universities, research institutions and companies concentrates the depth of expertise in the region.
“But it’s not only the environmental conditions that are optimal – we collaborate very well with local stakeholders and politicians.”
Dr. Hanno Schnars
What brought you to the Fraunhofer IFAM and the Heligoland test centre on our Energy Coast?
Following my PhD in chemistry and physics in Oldenburg, I went to the Fraunhofer Institute for Wind Energy Systems IWES in Bremerhaven. After that, I was the managing director of IMARE, the Institute for Marine Resources. Most recently, I switched to the Fraunhofer Institute for Manufacturing Technology and Advanced Materials IFAM in Bremen. I’m in charge of the Maritime Technologies sector there, and one of our research areas is on and just off the island of Heligoland.
Offshore energy plays a key role in your work, and it’s also an important field for the energy transition. What exactly are you working on in the research centre and the maritime test site near Heligoland?
We have been working there for about twelve years; we run test rigs for research on materials and corrosion. That is, we investigate how materials behave in an offshore climate. Our goal is to develop materials that are more resistant and more durable. The equipment is meant to last 25 years and to be as low-maintenance as possible.
What is special about working on the Energy Coast?
We have the ideal environmental conditions for testing complete systems on and off Heligoland – autonomous underwater vehicles, autonomous drones which are used offshore, and materials that are tested at full capacity. But it’s not only the environmental conditions that are optimal – we collaborate very well with local stakeholders and politicians. Alongside our scientific partners in the Maritime Technologies test centre, we have the vision and the goal of making the future renewable. That’s what motivates us and drives us forward.