The innovenergy® story
It is the year 2013. Somewhere in the Bernese Oberland on the Honegg Alp in Eriz, a diesel generator for the milking machine is rattling. The cows have got used to the noise by now. But Bernhard Aeschlimann, the dairyman, still hasn't. He simply cannot accept the price of noise, stench and environmental pollution caused by diesel.
At the same time in a different place, Christine Kehrli and her guests in the art nouveau Hotel Rosenlaui are also annoyed by a loud rattling generator from the Senner neighbourhood. At five o'clock in the morning, everyone is rudely roused from their beds – every day! This is anything but recreation at an otherwise quiet and peaceful holiday resort.
Not so far away from both, Max Ursin is pondering how to proceed in the energy sector. As an expert in hydropower, he knows that this technology is 95 percent developed in Switzerland and that further storage lakes are being blocked by environmental protection organisations. Where to put all the renewable energy when there is a surplus and where to take it from when there is no sunshine, for example, are the questions he asks himself. As an engineer and passionate innovator, he comes across the salt battery through a Swiss-Brazilian project and knows immediately: this is his thing!
Destiny comes by telephone
He starts experimenting, builds solar cells on his roof and uses them to run two electric cars with salt batteries. Then comes the fateful phone call. «Max, do something,» says Christine Kehrli from the Hotel Rosenlaui. «The noise has to stop!» That was the igniting impulse. Ursin immediately recognises a market and gets going. In his boundless naivety, he jumps out of his golden cage and lands rudely in the stress of self-sufficiency. He quits his well-paid job at the hydroelectric power plant and founds the company innovenergy GmbH. In his garage he builds the first mobile salt battery storage and calls the prototype «Leisemelk». In the future, it will ensure peace and quiet at Rosenlaui. The company saves 1,200 litres of diesel in just one season. So the whole thing not only brings environmentally friendly milking, but also pays off.
Max Ursin raises CHF 60,000 via crowdfunding and develops the «Leisemelk» further into the «IndieWatt». His vision: Diesel-free power supply on Swiss alpine farms. He publishes his plan in a farmers' newspaper. Bernhard Aeschlimann is immediately enthusiastic and contacts Max Ursin. Aeschlimann develops a foldable solar system for himself and Ursin supplies the mobile storage unit. The storage unit is charged with energy during the day independently of the grid via photovoltaics. Together, the two are touring the Alps with their product and bringing peace to the high-altitude milking business.
More than just milking cows
Max Ursin soon realised that success requires standardisation. Because every mobile salt battery storage system is a special construction. He finds out that there are no ecologically sustainable battery storage systems for single-family homes, on whose roofs a lot of photovoltaics are now installed. This is the gap in the market and henceforth his focus: «Clean renewable energy, stored in clean battery storage.» So he develops the first «salino». The product is well received in the still very small market. Soon his manpower alone is no longer enough.
Expansion of a garage idea
Bookkeeping is hired, a programmer takes care of a clean monitoring of the salt battery storage system, a strategic manager joins the company, a fitter takes care of the screw work and a professional marketing department is brought in. «salino» becomes salidomo®. «IndieWatt» becomes saliGO!®. Ursin continues to develop. The salitrust© as a UPS system is created. Four years later, it is marketed under the name salipro® as a standardised commercial storage system. A large salimax® up to 2 MWh is developed. Further technical specialists and a real sales man complete the team. In the meantime, the young company has fifteen employees in 2022. And the trend is upwards.
innovenergy®'s salt battery storage systems meet the zeitgeist of safety and sustainability. The number of references is increasing daily – as does the number of sales partners. Hundreds of single-family homes now call an ecological salt storage system their own.
Well-known companies are becoming aware of the salt batteries from Meiringen. Ursin finds good customers especially in companies where public safety plays a major role. These include some Swiss railway companies. The first major projects are realised, among others with the supermarket chain MIGROS.
Innovation drivers in the energy sector
Max Ursin's drive for innovation seems inexhaustible, because now a whole new market is being opened up: Private direct current grid solutions with the product name DConnect®. This offers a concept for large developments with a lot of photovoltaic potential and different consumers. A new approach can contribute to decisive changes in the energy transition.
The year is 2022 and the story continues – as it seems, a success story from a garage to a rapidly expanding company in the energy sector that is now making a name for itself internationally thanks to its high level of innovation. While other companies are facing more and more difficulties due to interrupted supply chains, innovenergy®, which has now mutated into a joint stock company, is doing just fine. The basic concept of regional, national and European value chains pays off: Short transport routes, functioning supply chains, low CO2 emissions, full recycling, sustainable thinking on all fronts and sales exclusively through certified partners create long-term future security for the company itself as well as for consumers and sales partners.