Free Energy Innovation AS
Our mission is to contribute to a world with more sustainable environment and reduced energy costs in buildings, by maximum utilization of solar energy. Our vision is to offer solar-based energy systems which can deliver all the energy buildings need. The Earth`s population are facing a huge challenge to adapt from fossil fuels to renewable environmental- and climate-friendly alternatives. World leaders engage themselves and so does star actress Julia Roberts.
This story is about plumber’s ideas and dreams about creating a “trendsetter” in the heat pump industry - from idea to finished product. How a number of resource people succeeded in realizing an idea and dream with structured and determined work efforts, and how a new heat pump company - Free Energy - saw the first light of day.
Rolf Lillemo was a once a dedicated plumber from Flisa, 150 km northwest of Oslo. He was a true innovator, not afraid of a challenge, and he was ahead of his time with many of his fantastic innovations. Rolf was the technical manager at a German industrial firm for many years and developed many different components for the heating and water market.
When Rolf had turned 60 years old he was determined to accomplish one of his dreams, which was to develop a hybrid heat pump with double the performance as the conventional technology on the market. The German industrial firm declined the opportunity to create HYSS (Hybrid Solar System), so Rolf chose to do it on his own with a few other partners. At 62 years old, he quit his job at the German company to spend most of his time and energy developing Free Energy and the HYSS system. The year of writing is 2009.
Rolf had realized that the heat pump technology could be streamlined by taking advantage of the sun. His plan was to cross the solar heat with modern heat pump technology. Rolf managed to integrate solar thermal technology in a smart way and with a level of innovation that would prove to yield unexpectedly good results.
Rolf’s ambitions did not stop here. He had an idea that all technical equipment should be accommodated within the heat pump’s module dimensions and be easily accessible for service and replacement. It seemed impossible at first, but worked out in the end. “It has to work” - as Rolf always said. In addition, Rolf also wanted to create a heat pump software that would not only be at the forefront, but also be the trendsetter for the industry.
To reach his goals and dreams, Rolf realized very early in the process that he needed more resource personnel for the project. There was already a partnership in place between his previous employer and Scandinavian Tooling & Production (STP)*, with Anders Skjaervik as the main owner. Therefore, it didn’t take long until he asked if Anders, who had an MSc, sharp technical skills, development experience and not least his company STP, would be interested in partnering with Free Energy.
STP had the technical and economic resources that were required to be able to further develop Rolf’s ideas and innovations. The main owner, Anders Skjaervik, likes a challenge, technical development and he also has a big interest in programming and calculation. This would prove valuable in the continued development work of HYSS. With his colleague Roar Petersen, Anders decided to join the project and become the support needed to realize Rolf's dreams of building a heat pump that would take over the market.
Some initial years of work began with analysis, technology choices and limitations on what needed to be developed in-house and what partners could contribute. For all this to happen, Rolf needed to expand the crew. The person who was closest by was his previous manager from the German company, Marcus Kanewoff. Marcus would mean that Free Energy could add a resource person that could lead and keep structure in the development work, but most importantly he could carefully guide and manage the project out on the market. Marcus is an expert in business development with great negotiating skills and has the qualities needed for industrial development. Marcus has a background as an electrical and HVAC engineer, is an educated marketing economist and a record young CEO at a large German company and he would be perfect for the upcoming challenges. His entrepreneurial heart fell for Rolf’s ideas and dreams. His desire to create something of his own combined with the possibility to contribute with an environmentally friendly heating system with international potential was the reason why Marcus decided to take a new path in his career. Marcus Kanewoff joined the rest of the group and took on the role as captain for Free Energy starting in 2013.
An important part of the development work with the HYSS project was to create a modern software to show the performance and operating status of the heat pump in an innovative way. In order to succeed in this, certain skills were needed. So, in the second half of 2013, Gilbert Jensen joins the team. Gilbert has a Master of Science degree and a background in telecom and energy that would prove extremely valuable. Today he is responsible for the development of HYSS's management and user interface as an Internet of Things (IoT) solution. Today, Gilbert is Free Energy's chief engineer and manages the technical development while leading the company's quality assurance.
Fall of 2013 was the time when the last pieces of the puzzle finally fell into place. Development and testing takes place in collaboration with the Technological Institute in Denmark. The main suppliers are selected, have a major part in the development work and are included as partners. In February of 2014, the first facilities are taken into operation and qualified field studies can now be initiated. The tests show that the technology is good, performance exceeds everyone's expectations and the software is well ahead of the competitors. It is now time to start with the toughest challenge: market introduction.
Lars Andrén is at this time chairman of Svensk Solenergi , the Solar Energy Association of Sweden. He has been working with solar energy since the early 1980s, for the last 20 years as a communicator through his books, lectures and courses. With 20 years of experience as chairman of the industry organization, Lars becomes a valuable asset as brand developer and communicator for Free Energy. He joins the current crew and his main responsibility is Free Energy’s marketing and communication. We are now writing 1st of September in 2014.
Unfortunately everything is not only good news in this story. In late summer 2014, Rolf gets seriously ill. In the fall, he has time to accomplish his dream and see how his skills as a plumber, as well as his technical ambitions, are realized in the HYSS project. Unfortunately, however, the disease accelerates rapidly. During the planned market introduction in Norway, Rolf gets the team's reports of how well his technical dream is received from the market, at Norway's largest HVAC industry exhibition in Lilleström. The rest of us thought it was amazing that Rolf got this confirmation, but also very sad that he wasn’t able to experience the success.
Unfortunately, due to the illness, Rolf passed away on December 1 in 2014 and one of the cornerstones and founders of Free Energy left us.
The team continues in Rolf's spirit and with his dream and goal to create 'The best heat pump ever'. And the ambitions have been successful! The team is very proud of how Rolf's ambitions have been kept in the HYSS project. The team has not only listened to Rolf's technical intentions, but also addressed Rolf's values in terms of humility, humor, and not being afraid of apparently insurmountable challenges. Free Energy and its staff work continuously in a spirit that is in keeping with Rolf’s vision of life: focus on humanity, the entrepreneur's passion, where the journey is as important as the goal, and perhaps the most important - and a bigger purpose - to contribute something good that is useful for humanity on a global scale.
We are four very driven entrepreneurs that have taken on the challenge to realize Rolf’s technical dreams. We all have a genuine passion for the environment and we were raised in a Nordic climate and know that our survival is dependent on staying warm. In order to minimize environmental and climate impact, it is important to focus on wise resource utilization. And that's exactly what HYSS does. For us, the sun is literally in the center, not only in our planetary system, but also as a driving force for Free Energy. It is clear to us that the sun, with its clean and free-flowing energy, will be the basis for all energy supply.
Free Energy is growing and new employees have been added. A large part of the company’s focus is now on completing our ongoing revolution of the heat pump market in the Nordic countries and further along in Europe. New retailers and installers are working with Free Energy and assist with knowledge, interests and new markets for HYSS. We want to wish everyone a big welcome aboard on our journey to join us on our mission to contribute to a more sustainable environment and reduced energy costs and those who want to help us reach our vision where sun based energy systems deliver all the energy that buildings require.