Top Innovation Champion 2020 - maxx made it!

TOP Innovation Champion 2020

Letting go of the old and daring to try the new: innovative medium-sized companies like us are not afraid of change, but see it as an opportunity. This is what convinced us in the 27th round of the TOP 100 innovation competition.

About „TOP 100“

Since June 19, 2020, we have officially been among the TOP 100! In the scientific selection process, we particularly impressed in the categories "Innovation-promoting top management" and "Innovation climate". 

We are mega proud of this award! This also shows once again how innovation-promoting photovoltaics and the industry in general is.

TOP 100 companies, like us focus on sustainable and intelligent energy concepts. We are the specialist in Thuringia for solar power and offer our customers turnkey solutions for photovoltaic systems and storage solutions.

The special thing about it: Thanks to the intelligent priority energy control, each customer can decide for himself how his energy should be used. For example, if the electricity stored in the battery for the night use, should be self-consumed, exported or if the electric car should be charged first.

To ensure that we can offer every customer the right solution, we also focus on training our employees. Everyone who starts with us undergoes a comprehensive seminar and training program, including product training.

About „TOP 100“ - the competition

The TOP 100 companies were subjected to around 120 test criteria. They explained, for example, how they organize innovation processes within the company, how they design the working environment for employees so that they can be creative, and what innovation strategies they pursue (explanation of the test criteria at: To ensure that all companies have the same opportunities, the award is awarded in three size categories: up to 50 employees, 51 to 200 employees and more than 200 employees.

As a mentor of the competition, science journalist, Ranga Yogeshwar was impressed by the TOP 100 companies.

"The innovative strength of these medium-sized companies forms a counterpoint to shareholder value orientation and the platform economy, which often exploits its service providers and is primarily interested in customer data […].  The innovations of the TOP 100, on the other hand, are an expression of a "we" culture […]“, he said.

"The SMEs are concerned with securing the future in the long term. They don't think about progress from the perspective of short-term profit; instead, they focus on securing the company's existence," says Yogeshwar.

About „TOP 100“ - key figures

 Innovations make a significant contribution to healthy development, as some of the TOP 100's key figures show:

  • The sales growth of the award-winning companies is 22.7 percentage points above the industry average.
  • The top innovators generate 36.8 percent of their sales with market innovations or innovative improvements that they have introduced in the previous three years.
  • From 2016 to 2018, all 257 TOP 100 companies applied for a total of 4,584 patents.

About „TOP 100“ - the history

Since 1993, Compamedia has been awarding the TOP 100 seal for special innovative strength and above-average innovation success to medium-sized companies. Scientific management has been in the hands of Prof. Dr. Nikolaus Franke since 2002. Franke is the founder and director of the Institute for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at the Vienna University of Economics and Business. With 25 research awards and over 200 publications, he is one of the leading innovation researchers internationally.

The mentor of TOP 100 is science journalist Ranga Yogeshwar.

Project partners are the Fraunhofer Society for the Promotion of Applied Research and the BVMW association of small and medium-sized enterprises. As media partners, manager magazine, impulse and W&V accompany the company comparison.

More info at

12.01.2021 |

Interview with Dieter Ortmann – CEO of maxx-solar & energy in Germany

Dieter Ortmann, CEO of maxx-solar & engery in Waltershausen, Germany.

Dieter Ortmann, CEO of maxx-solar & energy in Waltershausen, Germany.

He founded the company in 2008 and has been very successful ever since. In the new year 2021, let's interview the maxx CEO and tap into his knowledge.

True to maxx-solar's solgan: Let's talk about it:


How was 2020 for you?

Incredibly "moving." Never in the history of photovoltaics in Germany has there ever been so much "movement" in the industry. The topic of climate change is pushing everything what is related to renewable energy in a very positive direction - even despite Corona.


What did Corona do to maxx-solar?

Nevertheless, Corona there was a break in the take-up of solar after all. Not in relation to the "movement" towards renewable energy, but rather in the funding structures that existed. Due to the general Corona Aid, all forces were withdrawn from PV promotion and no permits were issued for 6 months. Any power outage in South Africa is more helpful than a government support program, which can be turned on and off.


What do you see as the biggest challenge for 2021?

There is significantly more PV being built in Europe and around the world. We're taking the highest backlog we've ever had into 2021. PV is by far the cheapest form of energy worldwide, even in cold Germany. Our biggest challenge is getting enough skilled workers to keep up. A real issue that will also affect South Africa is the availability and price of solar panels. China has passed a huge new solar program, Europe is moving ahead, and Joe Biden wants to re-join the Paris Climate Agreement immediately after taking office and he wants to accelerate the advancement of renewable energy (RE) in the US. There will be a huge demand for modules and inverters!


Will Corona play a role for maxx in Germany?

Hopefully less in the future. The stimulus programs are pro renewable energy, people's willingness to invest in PV is high. If the vaccinations shows positive effects and the infection numbers go down, it will be more of an economic accelerator.


What are you most looking forward to in 2021?

Full order books and possible trips to South Africa. Furthermore, we are progressing with the maxx-online-academy. And if everything goes as planned, we will be able to offer the first online trainings on a completely new level in the first half of the year! Stay curious! ;-)


What was the biggest innovation/coolest invention in PV for you in 2020?

A new cell developed in Germany with extremely high efficiency and the rapid development in battery cells.


What do you think will be the biggest innovations / coolest inventions / improvements in PV in 2021?

The speed will increase, especially in battery development! However, it is quite important that solar companies, craftsmen and planners continue to develop at the same pace. From my own experience, this is where the highest potential lies, especially in digitalization!


Maxx- solar & energie was elected TOP Innovation Champion in 2020. Innovation and digitalization are increasingly on everyone's lips today. How are digitalization and the solar industry related?

They are connected very, very closely! With battery storage and, above all, the e-car, it is no longer possible without digitalization. Everything has to do with everything and it is becoming very complex! Learning is the key for a good further development of solar companies.


What skills do young people need in today's job market in the PV industry and especially in the future- what is your assessment and observation?

On the one hand, it needs the really good craftsmen who are able to "think along". On the other hand, electrotechnical and digital knowledge that goes far beyond "basic knowledge" will become elementary. You also need people in the company who are familiar with the electricity market and its models. With e-mobility and flexible electricity tariffs, the topic of smart homes is becoming increasingly present. A well-known journalist wrote in 2020 that there will soon be only 2 "classes" of employees in Germany - the unaffordable and the superfluous.... the topic of AI will accelerate this forecast extremely. Education and the drive to educate oneself is the key.


Future viability of the industry: your assessment - is it worth pursuing a career here?

Absolutely! International economists predict that the transformation of the energy system and the grids will require more skilled workers than are currently employed in the automotive industry. Getting involved and choosing RE is clearly a very good decision!


What do you think about mentoring and when should people look for a mentor?

Always! Mentors have accompanied me my entire working life and I have enjoyed the exchange. It doesn't have to be an external mentor. It can be the partner, the boss, the colleague. Mentoring only works with openness and curiosity!


If you had to gather a mentoring team of three people around you (you can chose who ever you want! anything is possible), which three would you choose?

My first boss, a Benedictine monk and an extremely successful master craftsman who knows about processes, organization and structures.


What is maxx-solar planning in Germany for 2021? Surprise? Major projects?

No, rather less. We are struggling to process all orders orderly. We will build more than ever before, which will push us to our limits. Improve the topic of digitalization of processes and bring it to a really high level, and train new people. If everything works out, we'll build one of the biggest rooftop plants in Thuringia!


Something you'd like to share with us?

South Africa has the advantage of looking at how PV is developing elsewhere. Many mistakes can be avoided by observing others closely. We will also share these learning curves in the maxx academy. Invest in training and digitalization in good time. Stay cautious and healthy!


06.01.2021 |

Breaking News: Feed-in tariff in Johannesburg

Becoming more energy independent through solar energy is a new reality for Jo’burgers. City of Johannesburg residents, who are City Power clients, are now also potentially eligible for compensation for clean energy injected into the national grid from energy generated by solar panels.

This is a land mark move for City Power and for the City of Johannesburg. Residents have for years bemoaned the fact that in a country suffering from energy shortage, the national grid does not want energy generated by citizens utilising inexhaustible sunlight as a resource. Finally, the sun has risen on a new day; taking the lead from other metros like the City of Cape Town and Nelson Mandela Bay, City Power clients are now able to be financially remunerated (albeit marginally) for excess energy generated from solar panels, technically termed photovoltaic (PV) systems. Contributing to Gauteng’s vision and ideology of Johannesburg being a world-class African City.

Why is this such a big deal? It’s because owners who invest in a PV system suffer from a fundamental “problem” - they are often not home to enjoy the free energy they are creating from sunlight. In a typical residential environment, the home owner uses energy in the morning and the late afternoon and evenings. In the middle of the day when they are at work, energy used in the home is low – and this coincides with the time of day that a PV system has the ability to produce the most energy.

With the new ability to legally insert energy into the grid and be paid for it, home owners are now able to benefit more from residential PV systems. Putting units of energy from their PV system into the grid when they are not using it and be paid R0.42 per unit injected (R0.36 for three phase businesses). A well dimensioned PV system will result in little energy flowing into the grid. This is a condition from City Power, i.e. clients have to remain net consumers of energy from City Power, also keeping in mind that single phase installations are capped at 4600 wp (about 18 panels).

By now you must be asking what can the ability to feed into the grid and get paid for it do for me? Let’s have a look at a typical 3 bedroom, 1 geyser and pool home. Energy generated by sunlight is provided in a smooth curve on a lovely sunny day. When there is low energy demand in the house energy can flow into the grid and can therefore offset grid energy cost per unit by up to 35%.

Four to six panels installed using the best solar technology in the world is usually under 50 000 Rand including VAT and installation and will add about 75-100k to the value of your home. Solar energy in South Africa is making sense and cents, no matter which way you look at it due to a return on investment for a six-panel system being as short as 6 years.



Figure 1. A six-panel system typically installed under R50k incl. VAT & installation will pay itself back in ca. 6 years and provide free energy for the next 20 years. Increasing property values are now making solar energy a sensible investment.


On a national perspective, consider that of the roughly 6 million Johannesburg residents there are maybe 1 million homes that have a perfect north facing roof ideal for the installation of solar panels. Consider that if we installed four panels (1 kilowatt of power) on each of these homes, this would mean 1000 megawatt (MW) of power that we as citizens could contribute to clean energy production for South Africa. To put this at a country level, Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town contributes approximately the same capacity to the national grid; with enough residential PV systems perhaps we would not need another (controversial) nuclear plant.

There are obviously going to be some hoops to jump through and some costs associated with the application, e.g. pre-paid meters are not allowed and a new meter will have to be installed in this instance. However, our trained maxx alumni and team installers will endeavour to make this process as painless as possible for you. Our dream and vision of affordable clean energy for everyone is the driving force behind the maxx solar energy #RooftopRevolution. Go on – be revolutionary! Contact us for more information.


The maxx | solar energy group with headquarters in Thuringia in Germany provides its customers with all services related to photovoltaics, including the planning, construction and maintenance of residential, commercial or agricultural PV power plants. Through maxx | solar energy South Africa (Pty) Ltd., the maxx group extends it presence into South Africa. The service and product range of maxx | solar energy (Pty ) Ltd. includes consulting, planning and wholesale. As a long-time partner of German PV system integrator IBC SOLAR, the Thuringian company and its subsidiary in South Africa stand for the highest quality standards in photovoltaic technology. This quality standard has been integrated as a part of the certification by the RAL Quality Assurance Association and TÜV Thüringen.



maxx | solar academy

The maxx I solar academy, Africa´s Premier Training Institute on Solar Power acts as non-profit training center for solar energy. It was established in 2011 by the German Solar Energy Society DGS and the maxx solar energy PTY Ltd. South Africa. Since 1996 hundreds of engineers, architects, craftsmen and interested citizens have been taking part in the maxx-academy and DGS courses worldwide. Only in South Africa we trained more than 1000 participants until 2016. Our fast grow is only possible due to great local partners. All maxx-solar academy courses are centrally managed and quality assured by the maxx-solar academy team.



maxx | wholesale

We supply solar components to installers, planners, engineers and electricians in all of South Africa and the whole sub-Saharan region.

Quality, excellent consultation and a convincing product portfolio are the basics for your success. One strategy to a successful business is taking a different position than the rest of the market and not just imitating ideas.

This can be achieved with perfectly coordinated products which distinguish themselves from the market and are in a strong financial and strategic position and offer the client added value.

Click here for more information


maxx | team

The maxx I team partnership is your expertise to success. We will provide you with all your needs. We provide you with the best discounts and newest products maxx can offer. We give you a finance solution for your clients. A side designer to plan your installations. High quality material to convince (made in Germany). Professional and technical service.


27.09.2016 |



One of the most talked about solutions for energy sufficiency in the office and home environment is the Tesla Powerwall – a battery that charges itself by using electricity which is generated from solar panels. This slim and elegantly designed battery defends your home against power outages by providing back-up electricity.

As a Tesla Energy Authorized Reseller, Maxx-Solar Energy is extremely proud to announce that they will selling and installing the Powerwall at consumer homes in the first quarter of 2016.

With the considerable rise in electricity and material costs that South Africans are experiencing, it has elevated attention to the issue of sustainable, green living. The electricity consumer market is rapidly changing and increases of consumers are setting their sights on sustainable, secure and affordable solar energy. Not only is this option an investment in a bright, trustworthy future but also great for the consumer pocket in the long run.

One such a solution provider is Maxx-Solar Energy, importers and suppliers of high performance photovoltaic solar energy equipment. They are known for developing the well loved solar energy system that cures load-shedding, which goes by the name of Be More Independent (BMI) solar energy system. This dynamo of a young company is not only national, but continental leaders in the field of both installations and education regarding solar energy panels.

Through Maxx-Solar Academy, hundreds of entrepreneurs and job opportunities are recognized throughout Africa, assuring continuous nurture and development within the green skills space. For more information, visit the website at

Maxx Solar Energy is 100% behind self-sufficient and clean energy, making a difference one solar panel and tesla powerwall at a time.

Maxx-Solar Energy - “excellence in photovoltaics”


Address: Unit 11, Fern Towers, Hyaluma Street, Randburg

Phone Number - JHB: (011 021 4849 / 076 315 3009)

Phone Number - CPT: (021 825 9919 / 081 855 7454)

ENDS ###

For press information:

One Thousand Words PR

Jani Roodt

082 802 6110

28.02.2016 |