A matter of awareness
The story of an Executive MBA alumnus - and how he made green power use plannable.
Fisnik Musai deliberately chose an executive education program that allowed him to learn new tools and develop new skills to recognize entrepreneurial opportunities and develop practical solutions solving real user needs. He wanted to understand how to approach the big topics of innovation and business development strategically. What he would achieve by the end of his Executive MBA in Innovation & Business Creation was hardly foreseeable and ultimately the result of solid team work. The fact is: Fisnik Musai, Product Owner and Head of High Voltage Solutions at Bayernwerk, laid the foundation for the ÖkoHeld app – an app that makes possible and easier for all of us to use renewable energy on a daily basis – within his Executive MBA journey. Throughout the project modules, he and his team turned a good but raw idea into a concept and validated the solution - following proven business design principles. The result is a product success story that creates real value for the user and the environment.
Every innovation begins with the recognition that something needs to change
Fisnik Musai did just that when he first shared his thoughts with his Executive MBA peers. "In my job as a grid planner at the time, I’ve noticed that green power generation and usage often diverge greatly," he recalls. "If a lot of power is needed locally right now, but not enough renewable energy is available, utilities have to switch to fossil alternatives." According to Fisnik Musai, this can't be changed in the short term as it requires joint efforts and heavy investments - but individuals can do something by raising public awareness: "If people are familiar with the problem and you give them a way to check the availability of green energy quickly and easily, they can adjust their consumption accordingly," Fisnik says. "If this catches on, we can get by with smaller infrastructure to connect and distribute green power, use less fossil energy, and save money and resources."
The reactions of his fellow students immediately confirmed part of his thesis - because until that point, none of them had considered the problem. Sparked by the potential impact, they were all the more willing to turn the case into a project and work together to find a solution. "Basically, the rough concept was already in place when the program was completed," reveals Fisnik Musai. That it would be a free app for the end user was strategically obvious to everyone. "In this way, we not only create barrier-free access to the required information, but at the same time show simple ways to help shape the energy transition through conscious decisions," says Fisnik.
An idea takes shape
Back at Fisnik Musai's professional home, E.ON subsidiary Bayernwerk, the implementation of the idea was quickly adopted - as was its conceptual core: make the user aware of their energy mix usage by visualizing real-time data from the respective power grid. After downloading, users only need to enter their zip code. That's all the information the ÖkoHeld app needs - and they'll get a breakdown of the local energy mix in the form of a color-coded pie chart. It might quickly become apparent, especially to those living in large cities, that the share of green electricity is not always high. "Especially in urban areas, the supply of green electricity still has a lot of room for improvement," says Fisnik.
The app shows 75% fossil and nuclear energy in the north of Munich. In the countryside, that figure is usually much lower, Musai says. Where hydroelectric power plants, wind turbines or photovoltaic systems are in place, it is sometimes possible - depending on population density, weather and time of year - to cover the local supply exclusively with green energy. Of course, our metropolitan regions are still a long way from such dream scenarios. But here, too, users can make a contribution with the help of the app. "ÖkoHeld not only makes the current local energy mix transparent. The app also makes suggestions as to when appliances with high power requirements can be operated with green energy," explains Musai. The app then calculates the CO2 saved as a result - providing a further incentive to use the available power in an environmentally conscious way.
Collaboration and reach as keys to success
The ÖkoHeld app has been available for download since October 2022 and is still flying under the radar of the general public. But at Bayernwerk, they're optimistic that the tide will soon turn: "Currently, we're taking various approaches to get the issue on people's agendas and put our tool in their hands," says Katharina Krist, content manager for the digital division. "We're still a bit early with such an app, but we believe that many will become committed CO2 savers if we show them a way."
For Fisnik Musai, the app is just the first step in a larger plan toward energy efficiency which he is pursuing step by step. After all, the app's treasure is the collected, organized data on green energy behind the visualization. This is pure gold for business players who want to put their sustainability promises into action and use green energy for products that require a lot of electricity. Accordingly, Finsik's next step is to raise awareness among companies and create new opportunities - for example, automated charging for electric cars based on the real-time data. These are easily accessible for various applications via the API interface. As he continues to develop, Fisnik relies in no small part on ongoing exchanges with his former Executive MBA classmates. "We established the Whatsapp group 'EMBA Forever 21' as the graduating class of 2021. As such, we meet regularly virtually and several times a year physically," says the app creator. Opportunities to share new ideas and solicit feedback among peers are plentiful for Fisnik Musai. He also likes to celebrate successes with the group. After all, they have a lot in common - and one thing in particular: the pursuit of the next big idea.