Carl Berninghausen

Carl, 62y., father of 4, studied business administration in Germany, UK, France and Canada and holds an additional master in economics. He started his professional career at Deutsche Bank and IBM for 5 years, before taking over a family business in the wood industry with 100 employees, which was in a difficult situation at that time. He managed the turn-around and started a new company – Karibu Holztechnik GmbH – as a spinoff, which became market leader in the German market for garden houses. As president of ArgeHolz, a PPP for marketing and technical consulting for the entire wood industry of Germany, Carl managed the coordinated efforts of a large and diverse stakeholder group. After a successful trade sale Carl left the wood industry after 16 years, keeping only minority shares and real estate.

On the basis of these assets he formed a family office including a charitable foundation and additional investments in the clean-tech sector and forestry, before he reassumed an entrepreneurial role again with the foundation of sunfire GmbH in 2010.

Together with two co-founders Carl built up sunfire from a mere vision and business plan to a veritable technology company with a team of 130, a strong patent portfolio and over 60 Mio. € investment. sunfire is developing and manufacturing novel galvanic energy converters which allow to transform solar or wind power into renewable fuels and vice versa with a game changing efficiency. This helps to close the carbon cycle - a strong motivation for Carl and the entire sunfire team.

The rapid development of sunfire during the last 10 years was due to a combination of organic growth and acquisitions and was supported by strong co-investors like KfW, TOTAL, EDF, CEZ and Paul Wurth SA. Still Carl remains to be the largest investor and shareholder of sunfire and holds the CEO position. This ensures a healthy balance of start-up spirit and agility with the power and international reach of VC and corporate backing.

Large customers like Boeing, Thyssen-Krupp, Gazprom, Audi, China Steal Corporation, Salzgitter and others are building long term partnerships and pursue a joint route to market with sunfire. Further recognitions include large federal and European grants and the graduation to the Cleantech-100 list.


Charlemagne Thursday 20 June16.00 - 17.30