We talked to founder and CEO Dr. Carsten Corino of SunOyster Systems GmbH, a concentrating solar technology for the co-generation of power and heat. This is what he said:
First of all, how are you and your family doing in these COVID-19 times?
Dr. Carsten Corino: All my team members and I are healthy – we are focused on our path to the future, not standing still. Fortunately, our product, the SunOyster, is largely independent of Covid regarding development, even though we have a few real stumbling blocks because of travel restrictions.
Tell us about you, your career, how you founded SunOyster Systems GmbH.
Dr. Carsten Corino: I have over fifteen years of management experience in renewable energy.
Previously, I worked in environmental and energy law and the project development of the leading German law firm Gleiss Lutz. Later, as Executive Assistant and Head of Corporate Development, I significantly pushed the path of the wind turbine manufacturer REpower (later Senvion) from a small regional engineering company to a respected international player with two billion euros in market capitalization.
With the founding of SunOyster Systems GmbH, I fulfilled my desire to expand the SunOyster system’s idea. As a certified plant planner Renewable Energies of the University of Kassel (2004) and as a specialist in solar technology of the Chamber of Crafts Hamburg (2008), I have a broad and also technical knowledge of solar energy. The SunOyster System idea started not in a garage but in an old romantic barn of a tree nursery, and I spent many evenings together with a neighbor who is a master car mechanic, tinkering and building models of the SunOyster.
How does SunOyster Systems GmbH innovate?
Dr. Carsten Corino: We combined the best of already existing solar systems to the “SunOyster,” a patented concentrating solar collector with roughly 16 m² gross mirror surface. It tracks the sun bi-axially to convert the sun’s energy into both electricity and heat (the SunOyster can convert 75 % of the solar radiation), trying to represent the cheapest form of solar energy with the best surface efficiency.
In addition, it can turn heat into cold. “SOcool “focuses on the combination with thermal chillers for solar cooling of buildings and industry in order to satisfy their complete energy demand from power overheat to cold.
In relation to a horizontal roof or ground surface, the SunOyster generates at least twice as much energy as the best photovoltaics. Unique: in case of storm and bad weather and also in the night, the SunOyster closes automatically into a safe and protected position like an oyster on the beach! This allows installation of the SunOyster on the best place for solar systems: the roof, the pole position for harvesting energy from the sun! And last but not least, the very cool look of the new SunOyster 8.
How the coronavirus pandemic affects your business, and how are you coping?
Dr. Carsten Corino: Due to Covid, we are several months behind business development and were temporarily unable to install the ordered SunOyster Systems. As we have a hardware product, there are a lot of costs, so we expanded the circle of investors.
Did you have to make difficult choices, and what are the lessons learned?
Dr. Carsten Corino: Decisions like transporting a SunOyster to our customer in Zambia without knowing if and when we would install it or pursuing opportunities in China would mean 2 weeks of quarantine in a hotel for the staff.
What specific tools, software, and management skills are you using to navigate this crisis?
Dr. Carsten Corino: Most important is to stay in good spirits! During the last year, we also see the potential of virtual meetings to get and to keep in contact with new prospects and existing customers. In addition, we have a lot of requests from our Home country Germany so that the travel issue is easier to solve.
Who are your competitors? And how do you plan to stay in the game?
Dr. Carsten Corino: With the SunOyster skills, we have no relevant commercial competitors in solar co-generation, even if PV is becoming cheaper – we can generate at least twice as much energy in relation to the surface. In any case, however, we have to go into the markets of the sun belt of the world in a timely manner.
We are already in the development of a solution also for private households for sloped rooftops. In sunny regions, the SunOyster will be the cheapest form of solar energy whenever heat or cold are used.
Your final thoughts?
Dr. Carsten Corino: We hope that with the SunOyster, we create a big step of energy evolution. For future!
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