19 Nov Johannes Bergsch: Greenstorc’s Secret Weapon
There’s plenty of smart ammunition in the Johannes Bergsch arsenal – law, economics, physics, logistics, police training and undercover expertise.
So, we’re hugely relieved that Johannes found his way to renewable energy. He travelled a long and bumpy road offering plenty of distractions for a multi-talented man with an appetite for life.
Johannes thrived on the thrill of the chase. This led him “a bit like James Bond through the world” in a series of undercover jobs and special operations as a highly trained member of the German Federal Border Guard.
It’s not surprising, then, that Johannes found it hard to settle into the corporate life that followed. His large, successful consulting agency somehow just didn’t satisfy his thirst for knowledge and discovery.
But it did introduce him to the latent potential of heat-to-power technology. That’s really where Johannes took off his corporate hat and applied himself to developing the possibilities of green sustainable technologies powered by heat.
In summary, James Bond gave way to Young Einstein. Johannes dedicated himself to becoming an inventor in his own right.
The Bergsch solution: Bring in the big guns
Success was one thing. True satisfaction was another.
Rather than help large medical practices with complex logistical solutions, Johannes was convinced he could be far more useful addressing one of the critical challenges of our time – how to provide clean, 24-hour energy to communities of every size and status across a world facing the challenge of climate change.
From his earliest days researching renewable energy for a dental client, to final sign-off on his disruptive SHUBox technology, Johannes had two clear aims. He wanted to slash the carbon emissions from dirty fossil fuels like coal, oil and diesel while providing affordable, reliable electricity to poor and remote communities in emerging nations.
Once he began his quest there was no stopping him.
He quickly grasped the potential of traditional Organic Rankine Cycle (ORC) systems, the original ‘steam engine’ technology. It was already an impressive process. What if he could then create clean, round-the-clock electricity by harnessing heat at temperatures around 50°C or less rather than close to 140°C?
Johannes says: “I sold my company and spent all my time and money – everything I was able to give, to achieve this idea of changing the world.”
He survived on the smell of an oily rag. The wealth produced by corporate consultancy seemed a world away as he devoted himself to learning everything he possibly could about heat recovery techniques and baseload capability, along with the strengths and weaknesses of Combined Heat and Power (CHP) systems that were on the market at the time.
Fortunately for everyone, Johannes succeeded. In conjunction with Valencia University, he produced ORC-based test machines generating zero emissions electricity at temperatures of 50°C and 60°C – 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
He was one step closer to achieving his vision.
Breakthrough heat-to-power: How did it happen?
While based in the Muensterland area of Germany, a dental practice with a large affiliated dental lab approached the Bergsch agency about the possibility of using renewable energy to power the company.
It started Johnannes on his new path. “No job had ever demanded so much of my combined knowledge and experience before”, he says.
So, began a period of intense experimentation and development.
Johannes worked his way through many European stations and bars, companies and universities, until he reached Valencia. The Spanish university was excited by Johannes’ research.
They gave him the support he needed to continue by:
- Combining heat production using bioethane with heat recovery
- Working with different fluids and techniques
- Developing a variety of heat sources
- Harnessing lower temperatures to create clean, continuous power.
A handful of machines were finally up and running at breakthrough low temperatures using Johannes’ proprietary fluid.
Meanwhile, Johannes was also working to refine the system further – by combining ORC generation with shallow geothermal heat. Greenstorc calls this Micro Geothermal Energy.
If Johannes could perfect it, his modular technology could be used virtually anywhere in the world to create a reliable, easily achievable source of 24-hour, zero emissions power – by tapping into the natural heat beneath our feet.
Johannes also had to find a path to market.
Try, try, try again: Getting Greenstorc to market
The next five years were all-consuming. Johannes tried in vain to make his technology commercially viable. Different partners came and went but nothing seemed to gel.
Low on money – again – the determined inventor cast around for investors who might see the enormous opportunity his fledgling technology offered in terms of global renewable microgrids.
For him, that was the key – the ability to produce energy cleanly and affordably in the location it was needed. This was the basis of the new Bergsch company – RegEn, which translates to “Regional Energy”.
Then Johannes got lucky once more. He met renewable energy expert Paul Flynn in Bulgaria. Each recognised a kindred spirit. Both had brains, vision, dedication and a stubborn refusal to concede defeat. And both felt heat-to-power was the missing link in terms of a global renewable energy solution that everyone could benefit from.
They decided to build a small company together. Johannes would provide the German technology and Paul would realise international projects through his expansive network of clean energy players. Ryan Lanham was also brought in as a specialist advisor, strategist and mentor.
Greenstorc, which translates to “Green Sustainable Technologies” combined with “ORC”.
“We were all the same”, Johannes says. “We were interested in excellence, not big names, titles and status. Everything we did, we did without papers, just by shaking hands. There are not many people in the world where you can do big business based on real trust and understanding.
“It is the greatest thing on earth to realise a vision together with friends and our great and growing family. We believe we can change the world in the right way and overcome one of the greatest 21st-century human challenges – energy.”