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The sun does not send an invoice

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actensys – the company name is short for ‘active energy systems’ – stands for innovative, sustainable energy solutions. Based in Ellzee in Swabia, the company offers the full range of photovoltaic solutions, from small roof-top installations for private homes to largescale greenfield power plants for municipal or commercial customers.

Founded by five partners, all enthusiastic renewable energy supporters, in 2008, actensys is celebrating its tenth anniversary this year. Unlike many competitors, the company has survived the crisis in the sector and developed into one of the leading providers of solar energy systems in Germany.

“There is more to renewable energies than profit and return on investment,” says Martin Pape, Marketing Director, Authorized Signatory and Manager of the Weilheim branch, explaining the company’s sustained success in the sector. “We want to make renewables a perfectly acceptable, natural alternative to conventional forms of energy and bring ecology and economy into accordance, thus making a vital contribution to achieving the energy turnaround.”

With subsidiaries in Weilheim in Upper Bavaria as well as in Austria and Switzerland, actensys operates in all German-speaking countries. The company employs a total of 50 people and generates revenues of 20 million EUR. At its headquarters in Ellzee, actensys runs a 118-kW photovoltaic test park which also provides the company building with green energy and makes it 100% independent from external supplies.

Actensys has a broad customer base which includes private homeowners, agricultural enterprises, commercial customers and municipalities. The company’s strength is that it covers the entire photovoltaic value chain. “We provide everything from planning and installation to official approvals and building applications through to supervision and maintenance,” Mr. Pape describes the ‘green thread’ philosophy of the flourishing solar energy business.

With the Renewable Energy Act now encouraging photovoltaic system owners to consume the energy generated themselves instead of feeding it to the grid, actensys is offering more and more storage solutions that provide energy even when the sun is not shining.

“90 to 95% of the photovoltaic installations we supply today are equipped with a customized storage system that makes plant owners even more self-sufficient in terms of energy,” states Mr. Pape. The growing popularity of storage solutions and private consumption is supported by the trend towards smart homes which are designed to enhance convenience for their owners and optimize the building’s energy footprint.

In the future, actensys wants to advance its activities in solar energy storage solutions further by targeting new customer groups. “We already have highly efficient storage systems for private homes and apartment buildings,” says Mr. Pape, who is a fervent advocate of using renewables and the principles of sustainable development. “The next step will be higher-capacity solutions for commercial and industrial customers. The first affordable systems are already on the highly competitive and fast-evolving market. The whole photovoltaic industry is in a major transition phase, away from the feeding of electric energy into the grid and towards off-grid solutions with increasingly efficient storage systems and growing private consumption.”

Besides pushing storage technology, actensys is actively supporting so-called civic power plants which enable people to participate in greenfield photovoltaic installations and thus  benefit from the increasing use of renewable forms of energy.

In further developing its position in the solar energy sector, actensys is being partially obstructed by a lack in skilled labour. “Electricians are one of the main shortage occupations,” Mr. Pape gives an example. “We are fighting this shortage through outsourcing and working together with subsuppliers. In addition, we have started a training offensive to guard against a lack of qualified professionals.”

Another issue is politics. “We expect the authorities, at state, federal and European levels, to do more for medium-sized providers and cut back the influence of the large energy suppliers,” explains Mr. Pape. Despite labour market and governmental restraints, actensys is firmly holding on to its belief in renewable energies. “Of course, money plays an important role, but return on investment is not everything,” Mr. Pape points out the company’s strong dedication to sustainability and environmentally compatible energy production. “The energy turnaround will only work if profit is not the top priority. Renewables should be considered the natural alternative in every new energy project, even more so because the sun does not send an invoice.”

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