robotspaceship: How do you convince people to invest in new technologies?

Wolfgang Gründinger: For me, the big question is: How do we get people from knowledge to action? If you ask which energy source they would prefer to use, 90 percent say solar energy on the roofs. If you ask homeowners if they want a solar system, two thirds say yes. The problem is that only a few percent actually do it.

Why don't they do it?

Solar energy, heat pumps, but also e-mobility are "high complexity-low interest products". You have to imagine it like this: Most are first-time buyers. Very few have dealt with it so far. All these things like inverters, kilowatt peak, meter exchange, direct marketing, and so on, all this is still new territory for most people. And it's a major purchase. Such a thing can easily cost you 20,000 euros, often more. Homeowners don't just have that lying around.

What does that mean?

This means that most have to go to the bank. But most banks don't like to give loans for such things because they don't make money with it. Then there is an entry in the land register, then the bank is in the land register. Most people don't like that. You can manage to build a solar system on your roof, but there are many hurdles.

Sounds complicated.

It is. In addition, many dealers for solar panels also require a deposit before anything happens. We haven't even talked about maintenance, storage, and regulations. "Low interest" also means that people are very willing to postpone the whole thing.

Why do people like to postpone such things?

Because it doesn't seem to make a difference whether you have a solar system on your roof or not. Today or tomorrow - it doesn't really matter! There was only one situation last year when it was different.

Which?

When the war in Ukraine started. At that time, energy prices exploded. Suddenly, everyone wanted solar systems. Preferably immediately.

How long did that last?

Well, now it's different again. Prices have also calmed down again. But this is also the solution to the whole problem.

What do you mean?

We need to make problem-solving as easy as possible and the status quo as unnatural as possible. Now it's getting a bit philosophical: We believe that there is something like a normality. For us, this is gas and oil heating. But that's not true, because even this assumed normality is always changing. But that means we can also work on a new normality.

But?

It's always difficult to change. Every little change feels like pain.

Is there a solution to make this more pleasant?

If we want to include those who are not among the 5 or 10 percent who take action anyway, we need to make the change as pleasant as possible.

Does this also apply to those who are absolutely not willing to act?

I would just leave out those who don't want to do anything at all. But in the end, they'll notice it too. If all the neighbors are doing it, they'll want to do it at some point as well. We are experiencing a moment of inertia here. Once that is overcome, everything goes faster. So we need a solution that is so good that you can simply do it. It needs this tipping point where people realize that there is a technology that makes life better.

Like solar systems?

Yes, but we can also take the heat pump as an example. There are still people who buy a gas heater because they are afraid of the heat pump. They believe that it doesn't warm the house, that it's too expensive, and so on. And there are indeed still many energy advisors and installers who just can't do anything else. And above all, they still have a few old heaters in stock. So they sell what they still have. Of course! And that's why they recommend the old solution – even though it's just more expensive than the new one.

Aren't gas heaters still cheaper?

Yes, that's true. But not for much longer. Once there are enough heat pumps available, they will be much cheaper. Also, people calculate with today's gas price and assume for some reason that prices will remain the same. But they will increase. And that means that the gas heater will only become more expensive in the long run.

So, to want the technological change, people just have to think about their future?

Yes, but I would just like to put that in quotation marks. Because most people simply fail to think far into the future. That's why it's also important that we provide really good and comprehensive information.

What role does politics play in this?

What we have seen for 16 years is that we have frozen the present. We pretended that nothing would change – even though the crises around us became more and more obvious. Now we see that this system is collapsing and that all these changes are catching up with us. And at a rapid speed. We've put off this structural change for so long that it's now sweeping over us with force. This means that we now have to be even faster. Because time is running out.

Environmental Protection

Who is Wolfgang Gründinger?

Wolfgang Gründinger refers to himself as the Chief Evangelist at Enpal. He is therefore responsible for ensuring that the message of the first German greentech unicorn reaches the people. And that message is: It's quite simple to put solar panels on every roof in the country if you use innovative methods.

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Bastian Hosen is a business journalist and content consultant. He was trained at the German School of Journalism. Before starting his own business, he worked at Business Punk and Capital.

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