Carbonfreed wants to bring solar systems to the grid faster with AI
The founder financed himself with around 45,000 euros. With the seed capital, Ibsch and his team set about developing the AI software “Gridcert”. In September 2022, Carbonfreed received funding of around 175,000 euros from the state of Schleswig-Holstein for further development.
“Gridcert” was able to start in November 2022. The team had already simplified the certification processes for solar systems with other algorithms. The newly developed AI should now make this process even faster and easier.
How does artificial intelligence work?
If companies want to equip a roof with solar systems, then a system certificate is required. They get that from certification bodies. This ensures that systems do not overload the power grid. For this certificate, documents and data must be viewed and evaluated manually by engineers.
This process can easily take several months. “You can imagine the process as with a student loan application,” compares founder Marko Ibsch. As soon as certain documents are missing or incomplete, the approval is further delayed.
This is where Carbonfreed’s software comes into play. The AI views large amounts of data in the shortest possible time and reports if documents are missing. The AI algorithm searches for the required information and can quickly give an assessment of the project. The collected and sorted information is then passed on to the responsible certification body.
Why is the idea so important?
Solar energy is an important factor for the energy transition. In order to be able to meet the federal government’s energy targets, the approval procedures have to be accelerated many times over. This would also partly compensate for the shortage of skilled workers in certification bodies.
“Engineering graduate rates are low and it takes several months to train new employees in the certification bodies,” explains founder Ibsch. There are simply not enough staff for the growing number of applications.
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Carbonfreed functions as a service provider between the project planners and the certification body. This relieves both sides and solar projects can be connected to the grid more quickly. In November 2022, the start-up worked with the solar company Wirsol and completed a project with a logistics company.
Wirsol Managing Director Johannes Groß has already worked with certification bodies on several occasions in his function. The cooperation with Carbonfreed is an enormous time saver for him. “There aren’t that many rounds of voting anymore. That really is a huge advantage,” explains Groß.
The German Solar Industry Association also sees a lot of potential in AI. “Such solutions identify the problems in the market and turn them into a business model, which is to be welcomed in lengthy political processes,” explains Managing Director Carsten Körnig.
What are the challenges?
“We broke new technical ground there,” recalls founder Ibsch. The development phase of the AI repeatedly challenged the start-up. Many ideas had to be tested to find out whether they could be implemented digitally at all.
In addition to the technology, the certification bodies also posed a challenge. Many employees there were initially skeptical about the AI and had difficulties in adapting their processing to the new system. After initial skepticism, the cooperation with the certification bodies is now working very well.
After launching the AI software “Gridcert”, the start-up focused on growth. Around 560 projects are currently being processed – 360 have already been completed. According to its own statements, the company made sales in the high six-digit range last year. This turnover is to be tripled in the coming year. In addition, Carbonfreed plans to become active in other countries.
Every week, the Handelsblatt presents young companies that managers, entrepreneurs and those interested in business should now take a look at. The focus is on the innovation potential, which investors also pay particular attention to. The business models and ideas could also provide new impetus for products and solutions in other sectors.