Start-up makes solar modules ‘smart’ with intelligent sticker

Three German start-ups have come together in a consortium led by authentic.network to make efficient solar panels ‘intelligent’ with the affixing of a sticker – an innovative symbiosis that is unique worldwide.

A sticker sporting a green tick is all it takes to turn a solar panel into a smart module. A digital twin of the system is encoded in the sticker, which delivers personalised value-added services via the customer’s smartphone – all without complicated registration and login procedures. This is made possible by the blockchain technology of Chemnitz-based start-up authentic.network. In collaboration with two other start-ups, Torwell and Syscore, and operating under the aegis of innovation incubator Q-Hub, authentic.network took charge of developing the smart technology, which offers tangible added value to homeowners with solar installations and to service companies.

On 26th May, Swiss solar module manufacturer Meyer Burger opened its new factory in Freiberg (Germany) for the production of the world’s highest-yield solar panels. The next generation of solar modules will generate as much as 20 percent more energy from the same square-meterage of roof surface – offer customers and service companies real added value by means of an app. Gunter Erfurt, CEO of Meyer Burger: “Just as intelligent multi cookers today have their own recipes and mix all the ingredients together perfectly, we concluded that it must also be possible for a solar panel to provide customers with more than just electricity. We wanted useful digital services and information delivered readily and conveniently via an app.” With the smart sticker from authentic.network, this is exactly what has been achieved.

“We create a digital twin of the solar panel in which the access data is stored,” explains Frank Theeg, Co-CEO of technology start-up authentic.network. The smartphone app with the green tick is the key by means of which the customer controls the panel via the digital twin. The app offers additional services around the solar panel, including a solar calculator, a smart search function to help end customers find an installer and an engineer access feature.

The owner of the panel can order repairs or a replacement service within a few seconds at the touch of a button. Until now, the process has been far more complicated and time-consuming: the customer has to call the installer, specify the nature of the defect, fill out a complaint form, arrange a replacement appointment, and so on… “All time-consuming things that no one likes to do because no one profits from them either,” says Theeg. “Our technology reduces this to a ‘one touch’ procedure, completed within seconds and without tiresome logins. It represents a completely new kind of service promise, and more services are due to follow.”

The new one-touch services are not only user-friendly for customers, but also attractive for manufacturers, as Frank Theeg explains: “What we have done transforms a manufacturer from a mere industrial producer to a technology partner. This generates new revenue streams and, last but not least, results in significantly higher valuations when raising capital.”