Interview with the Chief Technical Officer, Thomas Beindorf
As an experienced mining engineer, Thomas Beindorf is to date working for 30 years on the development and management of technical installations, the supervision of respective teams of engineers and workers and the installation of facilities worldwide. He has been engaged as Managing Director since 2000 in several companies of up to 450 employees. Since 2008, Thomas Beindorf is working with The meeco Group and is occupying the position of the Chief Technical Officer (CTO).
Which products did you take care of since you started working for The meeco Group?
All products of meeco passed through my hands, from sun2go, sun2safe up to the basic layouts of the solar parks, which are unique products of engineering. These energy turnkey solutions address the requirements of different types of customers: individuals, businesses, communities and utilities. To attend to their requests by creating customized, innovative and top-tier solar power systems is one of the most interesting tasks of my job.
Could you tell us more about the different solar panels used by The meeco Group and their specifications?
Two main different types of PV panels are dominating the solar market: crystalline panels and amorphous thin-film modules. Both have different features and suit for different locations. As the performance of thin-film modules rises with increasing temperature, they work best in hot areas. A project with thin-film modules requires more space to generate enough power. Since crystalline modules are size-wise more efficient, they need less space. This kind of module works better at low temperatures. The base for the optimal decision, which panel type should be used in a specific installation, should firstly depend on the different wavelengths of the light, which differs from location to location and secondly on the intensity this light touches the ground. Via its advisory services meeco has longstanding experiences in developing the most productive and reliable clean energy solutions for every location and client. Moreover, we only utilise top-tier products for our projects. The material used for our installations benefits from a safe warranty background based on third party insurances. In addition to these parameters, we observe the market developments and establish strong bonds to our suppliers.
Bershka store in Valencia equipped with transparent solar panels
What do you think about transparent panels?
Products like transparent panels are working well for high industrialized countries or for high-end buildings in which they would also support architectural purposes. In 2013, meeco was chosen by the Spanish Architecture Bureau Sach Consulting & Services for the installation of a solar plant for the new Bershka fashion store in Valencia. For this special project, meeco applied transparent, tailor-made solar panels for the installation of a 31 kWp building-integrated photovoltaic skylight.
However, for industrial use, under the given environment of low energy prices in most of our markets and due to governmental subsidies, we have to focus on buying as many products as possible at a reasonable cost. Besides this fact, the shade the installed panels provide is an additional value, which is required in many of our installations.
What are your main responsibilities and daily missions as Chief Technical Officer at The meeco Group?
Tasks of engineers within meeco include fulfilling the promises made by the sales team and make plans happen. To streamline processes, to fertilize exchange of information, to set milestones and to controll the achievements are parts of my daily responsibilities.
The special challenge, meeco is exposed to is caused by the different markets we are tackling. In order to be successful in emerging markets, where the cultural background is often different and where technical standards and other benchmarks are not as defined as in Europe, we need to train employees in our various subsidiaries. These skills are of paramount importance to generate a common understanding of the group’s needs to supply the quality level of work we have to ensure and stand for.
Are you often in touch with the other international members of meeco?
Indeed, to be in touch with the core team of meeco, which includes the executive board and the international leading experts for each department of the company, is part of my daily work. Moreover, I communicate and operate with technicians, project partners, grid providers or suppliers from all around the globe.
|Discover The meeco Group´s multiple subsidiaries…|
When communicating with the members of meeco, do you sometimes experience difficulties due to cultural or linguistic barriers ?
The official language is English and thus a common communication basis is ensured. Nevertheless, most employees are fluent in more than two languages. It is challenging but it also improves the quality of the collaboration within the group. The same applies to the cultural backgrounds as different views may create misunderstandings, but on the other hand, there is a value in adjusting your own perspective by taking into account the background, the experiences and the traditions from your colleagues abroad.
Beside the business related topics, the cultural exchange with our partners all around the world is one of the most exciting parts of this job. It can change people’s perception of values and religions.
What obstacles or difficulties do you usually have to face in your job?
Working in emerging markets and bringing solar power to these countries requires patience. All the rest are common technological difficulties.
What do you consider as your most important achievement for meeco?
From 2009 to 2011, sales of PV solutions were booming in the Italian market. I was in charge of the foundation and administration of numerous Special Purpose Vehicles (SPVs), special legal entities created to fulfil temporary objectives. My tasks included controlling the legal acts and the successful implementation of projects up to the final hand-over to the investor. During this challenging time, we were running up to 65 SPVs all at once and we accomplished every single project with success. All this could only be achieved by the strong support of the team of our Italian subsidiary, meeco Services Italia.
Solar PV project in Viterbo, Italy
As the CTO, what responsibilities do you have concerning the launching of projects ?
I have to supervise and steer the technological process for the selection of the right components and I collaborate with the sales department to meet the requirements of our customers and partners. The definition of these requirements is the most difficult part of the process and it needs extremely close cooperation with the core team.
What challenges do you see arising in the future for the renewable energies sector?
There is no way without renewable energies and especially not without solar. New developments and innovations will decide about the competition between the several sources of renewable energies. However, solar power will stay a reliable source of energy as it is unlimited and easy to install in all sizes and at all locations. Moreover, a connection to the grid is not necessary since the energy can be produced where it is required and consumed.
What is the personal motto that drives you in the execution of your daily work?
There is a German saying which used to be my personal motto: “Geht nicht, gibts nicht”. It means “Impossible does not exist”. This pretty much characterises my approach to tackle my responsibilities and duties as CTO and also the challenges they involve.
|– Read about “How meeco manages its assets, money and structures”|
|– How The meeco Group plans and designs solar projects|
|– How meeco manages logistic challenges of solar projects|
|– Interview with George Kitoudis: Technical & Operations Manager|