February 9th 16:30 CET
Philipp Rosengarten, CEO and Founder of Clean Energy Global
Meet Philipp Rosengarten, CEO and Founder of Clean Energy Global (CEG), a Battery-as-a-Service energy ecosystem standard for e-mobility based in Berlin, Germany. During this digital session, we discussed his innovative new business model that promises to help us get closer to achieving energy energy transition. You can expect to hear concrete examples of how how his innovative business model works, how this new value proposition can shift us to a more circular approach using batteries, and ultimately who benefits.
What keeps Philipp Rosengarten up at night?
The fear that energy transition is failing keeps Philipp Rosengarten up at night. Energy transition today is not efficient enough and it’s too expensive for most people. At the same time, for him, the minerals, oil&gas and similar industries use any excuse to extend their businesses all the while earning massive profits.
How did Clean Energy Global start?
Philipp Rosengarten started Clean Energy Global in 2015 thanks to an experience on the German Autobahn (national highway) as he was driving a Tesla Model S at 210km/h. In a nutshell, the high speeds possible on the Autobahn were incompatible with the Tesla’s long charging times of 30 to 120 minutes with a supercharger. This prompted him to take a closer look at the battery and after examination, he realised a more efficient way to ensure faster charging for electrical vehicles was needed. In German, it was not possible to have a system in which charging was exclusively done by cable. It was also not possible to just have a big battery. Philipp and his team would soon discover the solution was by making small modules, which are smart and scalable and can be swapped automatically in less than one minute.
From this, Clean Energy Global saw the light of day soon after. Having worked in sustainability for 30 years and with the support of governmental actions, Clean Energy finds itself developing in a socio-political and economic climate that seeks to reduce carbon emissions.
What are the main obstacles preventing energy transition?
Philipp found the results surprising. Although fossil-based fuels are efficient, they are not set to continue for as long as generally thought. Cut-off dates set by European governments only concern new vehicles sold. Old vehicles are time and cost efficient. They can’t be used everywhere. For Philipp, cost of storage is the real main obstacle. Lithium prices went up by a factor of 10 in 2022. Regional push to mine Lithium.
What does Battery-as-a-Service mean?
This business model makes it much easier by renting out batteries. You may rent out a 100kWh car, you may only use 20kWh or 40kWh for your daily commute. And only if you go long distance or have extra tasks, will you need more battery and once you are done with the battery, you can hand it back to the station making for a very efficient.
90% usually rent batteries, only 10% by batteries. This method also allows a user to just pay their fair amount based on usage, similar to Smart cars. Electric vehicles can cost up between 30% to 200% more than fuel-based cars, however without the battery the price becomes comparable to entry level cars.
What is important is to offset the high storage cost and to make the cars charge more quickly. In the future when there will be more autonomous driving at night, no one wants to be bothered from their sleep to charge the car every 1-2 hours while they wait outside. A driver and passengers will be able to sleep while the car continues to drive.
And we have, the two pillars of energy transition is wind and solar. Then you have batteries in the middle, who, balance that. If you have most of the batteries in swapping stations, or most of the battery swapping stations, it’s easier to balance the grid than if you have high power charging, which is debalancing. At the moment, it’s OK, but in the future, it will become a problem.
What are the necessary conditions for this business model to be successful?
I think the most important bit is the entrepreneur who brings this model to the market. In Europe, the company Better Place failed and lost 500M€ because they wanted to own the batteries and at the time they were expensive and they were not modularised.
Things have changed now, in Germany NIO is now coming to the market in Germany with swapping stations, and in China, they are three different standards. In Taiwan, Gogoro, which does battery swapping for Vespa-like e-scooters, they own 90% market share. In Taiwan, they in their standard have 90% market share of the electric vehicles, of the electric two wheelers. That means that if you are as a car manufacturer, are not looking at the topic of swapping, you might lose out in the future.
To highlight CEG’s value proposition, “charging by swapping batteries is faster than supercharging”. In current systems, it takes 30 minutes to charge 80% of the battery, and the same amount of time to charge the rest of the battery as charging gets slower as the battery gets fuller. CEG promises to charge that final 20% in only 1 minute.
Part of the problem of e-vehicle charging is the difficulty of rolling out a vast and fast charging network (which also requires a high-power grid). Isn’t the option of battery swapping making things worse?
They once did an experiment calculating what high-power charging would look like at the largest gas station in Germany. They realised they would need 40 football fields to achieve this because charging takes so long compared to filling fuel. The conclusion was this large-scale electric charging not only takes time but it destabilised the grid.
Low-power charging like Tesla is no problem, but it is not sustainable when the majority of motorists use electrical vehicles particularly at high-peak periods like during the holidays. The CEG solution saves time and waiting times can even be reduced if a swappable battery is booked ahead of time.
Why not use Hydrogen like Switzerland Trucks whose business model is cost per mile?
Hydrogen has the problem then you lose about two thirds of the energy going into your engine. From energy production, to conversion to two hydrogen, and then convert it back, 2/3rds of energy is lost. It means paying three times more for the electricity you need. It could make sense if we could generate hydrogen from surplus energy in the future, perhaps after 2040. Presently, we still have to produce Hydrogen from coal and gas, and then import it. Alternatively we receive Hydrogen produced from French nuclear energy, which will also be imported from April so it is not the most green solution. Saudi Arabia is another exporter of Hydrogen, but it makes no sense importing it over diesel tankers. Today, Hydrogen has a real cost problem.
Regarding trucks, they have an even higher cost consideration as they are more price sensitive. If you can offer a truck hauler to save 2% or 3% of their profit margin, they might go for it.
You already have this in Germany, for example, between Frankfurt and Darmstadt. They have overhead line trucks and this is very efficient because you don’t have storage costs. They’re produced by Siemens, inventors of the electric train, and they even work well during bad weather. Overhead lines for trucks will be the future for long distance, while in the cities swappable batteries will be preferred. Market leaders like Daimler and Mercedes Benz focus on electric trucks. Hydrogen can be seen as a niche player due to the cost.
What can we expect in the coming months?
By Q4 of 2023 or Q1 of 2024, you should start to see the first light vehicles in the European market using CEG’s technology. What makes it really attractive is the customer won’t need to pay for full batteries anymore. they can star with 5kWh, for example, which is two small batteries and based on need they can rent more if they need to do longer distances.
They also have a white label solution for energy utilities.
Moving forward, as a business what are you looking for now?
CEG is in the stage where prototypes of the Clean Energy Pack are ready. They have the largest battery confectionary in Germany and in Europe, which will help them with the industrialization of their Pack. The industrialization cost is 2.5€ each. CEG is looking for a Series A round of five million at the for 25% of equity, for a valuation of the company of 20 million. It is more affordable than their competitor Ample based in the United States, which can swap but they swap in more time and their batteries are double the height than CEG’s.
Mr. Philipp ROSENGARTEN
CEO and Founder
What keeps Philipp Rosengarten up at night?