"We can make money charging people for free": Kazakhstan-based Adele Energy

21 September, 2022

 

Adele Energy develops and produces electric charging infrastructure. In an interview with Ruslan Dyusenov, the company's CEO, on which processes are best outsourced and how the project will scale. 

Adele Energy is a team of engineers who teamed up in 2013 and created their own product: a charging station control board and proprietary software, which it installs on a turnkey basis. The company has established a supply chain of European-quality components to manufacture its products in Kazakhstan.

Adele Energy installed the largest network of charging stations in the CIS in the Republic of Kazakhstan in 2017-2018. And in 2021 it received a certificate to connect the first Porsche high-speed charging station with a capacity of 350kW in the city of Almaty. 

In 2021 the company exhibited its products at EXPO Dubai 2020 where they were noticed by representatives of different countries including UAE (Dubai). Today the company has a representative office in Dubai (UAE), plans to launch assembly in Europe and open a representative office in Poland, and Turkey, as well as establish export deliveries to Central Asia and CIS countries. 

"We have a patented technology," Ruslan Dyusenov said. "We've already installed about 100 power plants in Kazakhstan, and we're in the process of scaling them up. We've negotiated projects in the UAE, US, Poland, Ukraine and Uzbekistan, and we've seen interest in each country. The other day we completed negotiations with the government of Kyrgyzstan - there is an interested private investor there who wants to take over the market at an early stage. And this is strategically the right thing to do." 

— Why would investors from Kyrgyzstan or Uzbekistan be interested in buying power plants from you, when there are practically no electric cars in the countries?

The market should be created on the principle that infrastructure comes first. It does not matter how many cars are in the country now, it is important to create the conditions for the future development of electric transport. Car manufacturers are already finalising plans to produce cars with a combustion engine. And by 2025-2027, they will switch to full production of electric cars - primarily because it is much easier to make them than cars with an internal combustion engine.  In China, for example, more than 400 companies are already producing electric cars for the domestic market. But in Kyrgyzstan, dealers are obliged to first install the necessary infrastructure in order to have the right to officially sell electric vehicles in the country.

— You said you managed to get a patent. Is it difficult? 

All elements of the charging stations - the trademark or the control board as an engineering product - are patented separately. After the initial consultation, we have advised to patent the body of our charging stations as a trademark. If we were to patent it as a utility model, it would only be for 15 years with the right of renewal. A trademark does not have an expiry date.  When we applied for a trademark in the international portal of WIPO, we had to abide by the conditions, including not highlighting the product in the media. This is necessary in order to preserve the novelty effect.

— Did you study all the intricacies of obtaining a patent yourself? 

We outsourced the whole procedure. It is a labour-intensive process which has to be handled by a separate person. But why do we need to hire one when we can go to an agency where a patent attorney can do everything for us? We outsource many processes to professionals. There is an expression, perhaps it is also applicable here: "better 1% of efforts of a hundred people than 100% of efforts of one person". 

— Do you also outsource the production processes?

Of course, we do. Our team is only 15 people, including those who represent the company in Dubai. Many people think that to produce this kind of product you need a whole manufactory, like in Soviet times. We have enough space of 200-300 m² to complete the station assembly process. If we need to increase production, we only need to increase the assembly line area and the number of staff. Many parts made according to our drawings and documentation come in finished form. This is more profitable. 

For example, one of our partner companies makes satellites. They have expensive, multi-million dollar equipment to solder the boards. We solder about 120-160 elements on one of our boards alone, making this production not simple. We order enclosures from other partners - they have professional welders. This structure of cooperation makes it possible to organise production in almost any country, and if necessary, one of the stages of component production can always be localised. 

— How different is your business model in Kazakhstan and other countries in case of the different market situations?

Business models, of course, are different, which affects the payback period. In Dubai, it is 3-4 years, in Kazakhstan about 5-7 years. In Dubai, we want to make money not only from charging electric cars. One of the earning tools is advertising.

When you completely build the infrastructure, apart from the equipment itself, you can install other revenue-generating elements. Therefore, we will be able to earn money by charging people for free. For example, if a city has 500 of our stations, we can set up an air quality monitoring system or sell data from video cameras to security services. And that is already contributing to building a safer city.

 

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