Dresden-based company wants to go public with small wind turbines
iQRON AG plans to go public in Paris before the end of this year. With the proceeds it has many plans in Saxony.
For two years now, the company Heliatek has been considered the contender on the Dresden stock exchange. But now a manufacturer of small wind turbines called iQRON, with just three employees, could be ahead of the pack.
"Our goal is to go public this year," says iQRON CEO Michael Eckelmann. It is planned for the Paris Euronext stock exchange, specifically in the access segment for technology start-ups. Why Paris and not Frankfurt? The 45-year-old has a clear answer: "The investment climate is better for small companies. Investors are simply more willing to take risks than in Germany. Erfurt-based semiconductor manufacturer X-Fab had also dared to enter Euronext in 2017 and did so successfully. That motivates."
So far, iQRON has installed four turbines in Germany, Switzerland, South Africa and, most recently, in Dubai. The small wind turbine, with an output of five kilowatts, was built on the site of the World Expo 2020, which was postponed until next year due to Corona. Emirates National Oil Company (ENOC), iQRON's customer, wants to present its "gas station of the future" project, which will operate with particularly low emissions through the use of renewable energies, at the Dubai Expo. The Dresden-based company's small wind turbine feeds the electricity generated into the gas station's power grid. For Eckelmann, who grew up in Freital and, after completing a banking apprenticeship, worked for a venture capital fund in Düsseldorf for four years until he returned to Dresden in 2010, the Dubai contract is an important step. It promises a lot of attention once the Expo is up and running.
iQRON has big plans. The company wants to establish series production in Saxony with 50 jobs and sell some 4,000 small wind turbines a year worldwide. Banks would probably not provide a loan for this, iQRON can hardly show a turnover yet. In order to realize the ambitious growth targets, the owner, the Dresden-based private equity holding company e2C3, wants to sell 25 % of the company's shares on the stock exchange. The proceeds from the issuance are estimated at EUR 8 million. Of this amount, €4.5 million will go to production development and sales and the rest to e2C3 in order to be able to invest in other Start-Ups.
"Small wind turbines are not new. But only we can produce them in series and in industrial quality," stresses Eckelmann. He is firmly convinced that he will be able to find enough customers for them. iQRON's small wind turbines, with an output of between 2.5 and 7 kW, are suitable for the operation of telecommunication towers or water pumps.
Hardly visible in the landscape
There are already five million telecommunications towers around the world, and every second one is designed to use electricity from renewable sources. In Germany alone, 9,000 new telecommunications towers are planned. iQron has installed a small wind turbine on a test mast for a Deutsche Telekom subsidiary, which can generate 95 % of the required electrical power. And electricity costs are playing an increasingly important role. The iQRON boss does not want to say exactly how much such a small wind turbine on a mast would cost the telecommunications tower provider. Roughly speaking, they would have to invest around 1,500 euros per nominal kilowatt of installed power.
According to Eckelmann, this is 50 % less than what the competition charges. Other advantages are that the systems can be installed quickly and require no maintenance. The Dresden-based company will install up to seven systems in Greece for Deutsche Telekom and will also start a field test south of Nuremberg in October. However, the CEO sees the largest markets in South Africa, South America and the Caribbean, where power supply is poor or where electricity is still supplied by diesel generators. Refueling diesel to run telecom towers is very expensive and diesel theft is a major problem. Therefore, the British network provider Orange has already announced that it wants to dispense with diesel completely in the future. However, customers are also hotels and resorts, which are increasingly opting for sustainability and climate-friendly electricity.
Eckelmann does not believe that the growing public rejection of telecommunications towers and wind turbines could affect his business plan. "Our wind turbines have a diameter of 4.40 meters. They are hardly noticeable in the landscape," he says.
And in the case of telcos, the stock market newcomer is optimistic that telcos won't be impressed by skepticism. The Covid-19 pandemic will accelerate digitization and he is sure that one day there will have to be technical equipment.
Nora Miethke's article appeared in the Sächsische Zeitung on September 21, 2020.
» Read the article in German