Is the energy supply in the Netherlands sustainable and green? If we look at all the Dutch energy contracts in 2014, it shows that 63% of Dutch households had a green energy contract. This shows that people are choosing to buy green energy although this is usually a bit more expensive in comparison with “grey/unsustainable” energy (MilieuCentraal.nl, 2016). 63% green? That means we only need 37% of the people to switch and all the households will be powered by sustainable energy! Not so fast…
Although this seems to be quite promising, the fact of the matter is that only 5,6% of the energy supply in the Netherlands is completely green/sustainable. How can this be? At this moment traditional energy companies are able to sell energy from a coal-fired energy plants and other unsustainable sources to consumers as “green” energy because they compensate for their own production by buying “green energy certificates” from producers somewhere else in the Netherlands or Europe. So even though people choose to buy green, they still pay for unsustainably produced power (Pruim, 2016).
Demand in the market shows that people are willing to buy green energy, nevertheless companies are still investing in unsustainable sources to increase profits. This situation motivated the founders of the now fast growing Dutch start-up “VandeBron” to come up with an improved and innovative business model. They decided to create an online marketplace for 100% sustainable energy. Just as with other platforms it would bring buyers and sellers together and thus make it possible to buy your energy directly from the source. This can be from people with an excess supply of solar power to a farmer that invested in a windmill and build it on his/her terrain.
VandeBron is only earning money from a flat-fee that consumers pay to use their platform as the connection to the source. VandeBron is intentionally not adding any margin on the energy and this has multiple benefits. By organizing the business in such a way the producers of green energy will get a better price with some suppliers getting up to 20% higher income from selling their energy. Consumers of the electricity will also get a better price and save money by switching from the traditional energy companies to buying directly from a renewable energy source.
It seems the company is doing something right because they managed to get more than 80.000 customers within two years. VandeBron intends to get to 300.000 customers in the next few years. They recently managed to get a new loan of almost 2 milion euros from the “Amsterdamse Klimaat- en Energie-fonds” which should help them to grow even faster. In the meantime, one of the major energy suppliers (Nuon) has copied the concept and gave it the name: Powerpeers. This shows that VandeBron is already effecting the energy system of the Netherlands (ten Katen, 2016).
Not all of the reactions are positive, because some sceptics rightfully point out that the power you consume via VandeBron can also come from unsustainable sources just as with the other energy suppliers. This is certainly true, but by making it more attractive to invest in green energy production and enable people to buy it cheaper, VandeBron and their business model will act as a catalyst in the transition from the current dirty grid to an energy grid with 100% sustainable energy.
MilieuCentraal.nl, (2016). Groene stroom. [online] Available at: https://www.milieucentraal.nl/klimaat-en-aarde/energiebronnen/groene-stroom/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2016].
Pruim, M. (2016). Groene energie: kiest Nederland hier meer voor in 2016?. [online] Pricewise.nl Blog. Available at: http://www.pricewise.nl/blog/groene-energie-kiest-nederland-hier-meer-2016/ [Accessed 4 Mar. 2016].
ten Katen, M. (2016). Z24. [online] Z24.nl. Available at: http://www.z24.nl/ondernemen/energiestartup-vandebron-is-zo-succesvol-dat-nuon-schaamteloos-het-concept-kopieert-615561 [Accessed 4 Mar. 2016].