Interview with Enapter AG
Enapter AG CEO and founder Sebastian-Justus Schmidt on the future of hydrogen
time to read: 4 minutes | The interview was conducted by Mario Hose on December 17th, 2020 in Heidelberg (D).
CEO and Founder | Enapter AG
Ziegelhäuser Landstraße 1, 69120 Heidelberg (D)
Table of contents:
CORPORATE GOAL OF ENAPTER
news|financial: "Hello, Mr Schmidt, what is the goal of Enapter?"
We want to stop global warming. Hydrogen plays an important role in this - but it has to become much cheaper. Stefan Kaufmann, the German government's innovation commissioner for green hydrogen, recently said: "Hydrogen must become the mineral water, not the champagne of the energy industry". And that's precisely our goal: to enable an affordable alternative to fossil fuels.
CHANGING THE MARKETS
news|financial: "Sounds good, but others have already failed at this task."
"[...] Why should a modular electrolyzer cost more than a motorcycle? [...]" Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, CEO and Founder, Enapter AG
Why should a modular electrolyzer cost more than a motorcycle? We need vision and a lot of hard work: but it is possible!
In November 2017, we acquired an Italian company that sold the electrolyzer they had developed at a price of EUR 16,000. Today, we sell a much-improved version for EUR 9,000. In 2023, these devices will cost EUR 2,500 or less: and that's with ever-increasing performance and longer lifetimes. Even then, it won't be over - it will continue. It will change markets dramatically!
news|financial: "Who tells you that the costs will continue to come down like this?"
We've had several established manufacturers and experts come in to look at the details of the equipment and what is happening in the market - they all agree with our predictions.
ENAPTER COMPETITIVE ADVANTAGE
news|financial: "Why are you able to build so much cheaper than other manufacturers?"
There are many reasons. One of the biggest cost driver of other electrolyzers is, for example, endplates made of titanium. We can do without them thanks to our patented AEM electrolysis. Also, the high modularity gives us a clear lead.
Another significant advantage is the CE certification for our individual systems: Installation, maintenance, etc. become super easy as a result. Together with our software, the result is a well-rounded plug-and-play system.
CHANGING ENERGY MARKETS
news|financial: "It is said that not enough green hydrogen can be produced in Germany - more to the point: where does the electricity come from?"
"[...] We are certain that the energy markets are changing and that a great deal of electricity will be generated locally in Germany in the future. [...]" Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, CEO and Founder, Enapter AG
We are certain that the energy markets are changing and that a great deal of electricity will be generated locally in Germany in the future. The potential for this in Germany is huge, but there is even more potential in other countries. Important to know: even today, only about 20% of our customers come from Germany. We have customers in Australia, Japan, Thailand, Holland, USA etc. Green power is charged very differently in other countries.
INVESTMENT IN GERMAN LOCATION
news|financial: "You want to build a site in Saerbeck, NRW, and invest EUR 100 million there. Where is the money going to come from?"
We have done a reverse merger for this. I always have to explain this to many people, but you know what it is. The stock exchange is a really attractive place and allows us to tell our story - and of course, it also increases our visibility.
In the future, we will continue to use all the tools that the financial markets offer us. I find the stock market interesting because anyone can participate, and not just the really big investors.
CHALLENGES IN MASS PRODUCTION
news|financial: "What scaling difficulties do you anticipate before mass production?"
We are currently expanding our Company at the existing site in Pisa. Our R&D and production capacity has grown from 1200sqm in 2017 to about 4000sqm. Last week we acquired another building of about 1800sqm, which we will equip in early 2021. We have started scaling since the acquisition. We are currently hiring excellent employees at all locations. It is not easy, but we are very confident that we will manage all tasks.
INNOVATION LEADERSHIP FROM ENAPTER
news|financial: "SolarWorld looked good at the beginning until the Chinese simply became cheaper. Can that happen to Enapter as well?"
Very unlikely. We have so much in-house R&D. It would take an insane amount of effort to catch up with us. Besides, we are constantly investing in improving our existing technology. When we inaugurate our expansion at the R&D Center in Italy in four months, we will probably have one of the largest research facilities in the field of AEM electrolysis in Europe. Nevertheless, one should learn from cases of SolarWorld and many similar cases: we must always remain vigilant and always be very fast.
SPEED ON THE MARKET
news|financial: "Aren't you afraid that someone will come along and build modular electrolysis systems just like you?"
"[...] We want to contribute to the reduction of CO2 as quickly as possible and, of course, to win the global competition in the field of green electrolyzers in a sporting manner. [...]" Sebastian-Justus Schmidt, CEO and Founder, Enapter AG
Of course, but this question can be asked of any company. Let's take it one step at a time: We have worldwide patents for our AEM technology. The "we-feeling" in the Company is very strong; the employees stand behind the Company's goals and are fairly involved in the Company's participation program. The most important thing, however, is our speed on the market and in further developments. We currently have a clear lead. Two main reasons drive us: We want to contribute to the reduction of CO2 as quickly as possible and, of course, to win the global competition in the field of green electrolyzers in a sporting manner.
news|financial: "Thank you very much for talking to us."