© Energyminer

Energyminer: “We Solve the Ecological Problems of Classic Hydropower”

Energy generation through hydropower is accompanied by various ecological problems, especially due to the construction of dams. The Munich-based startup Energyminer wants to remedy this situation: Its turbine concept aims to make dams superfluous and revolutionize hydropower. The founders explain in an interview how exactly this works.

Munich Startup: What does your startup do? What problem are you solving?

Energyminer: Energyminer develops and operates innovative kinetic hydropower plants. We solve the ecological problems of classic hydropower. With our hydropower plants, rivers either remain in their natural form or the plants make renaturation possible, and electricity is generated from hydropower at the same time. With our solution, fish are fully protected and can pass through the plants without being disturbed. The plant floats in the river. In simplified terms, you can think of it as a small wind turbine with a protective frame in the water. The plants are installed without any concrete or dam walls.

“A brand new plant concept”

Munich Startup: But that’s nothing out of the box!

Energyminer: That’s true, in principle. But all of the competitors who tried their hand in the field before us failed. It was mainly because their plants didn’t generate electricity economically. And that’s exactly where we started, and we’ve focused on cost reduction from the very beginning. That means we have a brand new plant concept with new patent-pending technologies. This not only allows us to dramatically reduce costs, but to also increase the energy yield at the same time. In other words, we obtain more electricity at much lower costs. That’s what makes it work in the end and gives us highly profitable plants.

Energyminer GmbH
The two Energyminer founders Richard Eckl and Georg Walder. © Energyminer

Munich Startup: What’s your founding story?

Energyminer: We’ve been working together since our joint doctoral studies at the Chair of Automotive Technology at TU Munich. Even then, we were fascinated by hydropower plants. Our work at the chair, however, gave rise to new battery contact technology and BMS technology, with which we successfully built the company Invenox GmbH. In the past two years, we completed our exits and founded Energyminer GmbH so we can now concentrate on hydropower. We’re a strong team that has solved many problems together. I can still remember countless nightshifts to solve problems. Somehow, we always pulled it off.

Munich Startup: What have been your biggest challenges so far?

Energyminer: We’re looking for investors at the moment. We’re looking for two million euros to finance the development of the plant to the maturity phase and to an SOP. Market entry is planned for 2024 with an additional investment round. What would help us in this area are approved sites for power plants in rivers. We’ve already applied for the first sites and are now waiting for approval from the authorities.

Energyminer’s pilot plant should be running in one year

Munich Startup: Where would you like to be in one year, and where in five years?

Energyminer: In one year, several pilot plants will be running, and our innovative IoT maintenance system will be tested. In five years, we’ll be producing as much electricity as a coal-fired plant does today. At this point, Energyminer will be operating profitably.

Munich Startup: How have you experienced Munich as a startup location so far?

Energyminer: We feel absolutely at home in Munich as a startup location. We are networked very well in the startup scene. Munich in particular offers startups a great deal. With institutions like UnternehmerTUM, Gate Garching, Munich Startup and Baystartup, to name just a few, Munich offers a great startup ecosystem. I can’t think of a place where we would be better off.

Munich Startup: Quick exit or staying power?

Energyminer: In between. We’re clearly working towards an exit. We want to establish a highly profitable electricity producer. There will certainly be some interested parties.