Vandebron

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Vandebron: An online peer-2-peer marketplace for renewable energy

Amsterdam, NetherlandsNetherlands
Year Founded:
2014
Organization type: 
for profit
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$1 million - $5 million
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Vandebron created an Airbnb-style site for electricity, cutting utilities out of the transaction entirely. Through our website, we arrange for consumers to buy electricity directly from independent producers, such as farmers with wind turbines in their fields.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if... we could buy our energy directly from the source we select ourselves?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

Utilities are unsuited for renewable energy because they have legacy investments in fossil fuels, plus they have an interest in selling units, which isn't good for efficiency. By contrast, our interests are aligned with producers, customers AND the climate. Utilities are resellers: to make profit they buy certificates of renewable energy from foreign countries, and use those to sell their own fossil energy as renewable.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

Our solution is bypassing utilities, since they are fundamentally unsuited to lead a transition to renewable energy. Now, with Vandebron, consumers can choose from which source they want to buy energy. Finally people know what energy they're buying, and know for sure that it's green and not 'greenwashed' fossil energy. Without an utility that's making a margin on units, consumers get a better price for true renewable energy, as does the producer who invested his money in it. The investment-case for renewable energy becomes a lot better, so more people will invest in renewable. We arrange all of this via our website. Utilities are never part of the transaction.

Awards

Among others: Radicale Vernieuwers (Radical Changemakers) from Vrij Nederland, Join Our Core international winner from Ben & Jerry's and Ashoka, Entrepreneur Team of the year from TeanVenture
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

It's our mission to raise the price for renewable energy, so more people will invest. Because Vandebron only charges a flat-fee (much like Spotify), both producers and consumers get a better price for renewable energy. Our first producers on our website already had a windmill, solarfarm or biodigester, but now new production is being build, like wind- and solarfarms, that are made possible thanks to the better price by selling via Vandebron. One specific example was a windpark of four big windmills, powering 11.000 homes, that couldn't get finalised in terms of investment, but with the price they'd get via Vandebron, it became profitable and possible. The windmills are now being built as we write this.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

Two ways we make impact: 1 - Financially: Because we connect producers and consumers (and make no margin along the way) the investment-case for renewable energy becomes a lot better. Both producer and consumer both benefit, making sure more people choose AND invest in renewables. 2 - Transparency: We bring transparency to the energy market in The Netherlands. Utilities are currently acting as resellers, buying certificates of renewable energy from foreign countries, and using those to sell their own, non-renewable energy as renewable, making a profit along the way. We bypass them by offering something better. Finally consumers have the power to go green.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

In the future, everybody's house will become its own energy station. We want to connect everyone, so you can buy energy from your neighbour, from your parents or your sport club. We want to make that as simple as signing up for Facebook. And of course, that energy is 100% renewable.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

Utilities in the Netherlands make a profit on units, plus they charge a flat-fee per month. We only charge a flat-fee, much like Spotify, so instead of a trader, we're a service provider. For us the flat-fee is enough, making sure our interests are aligned with producers and consumers. We want to make sure enough people invest in renewables, so we can add them to our platform, and grow that way.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

We're the first and only online peer-to-peer marketplace were producers of all renewable energy types can sign up, and sell to everyday consumers. Otherwise, there's Piclo in the UK, which is only for B2B, and Yeloha in the States, which is only in solar. Also: they're still in testing phase, while we've been live since April 2014 now, growing rapidly since. There's many innovations in renewable energy, but we want our platform to be the combining factor, making sure choices and money flow towards them, allowing them to invest further.
Team

Founding Story

The idea started when in 2013 the founders asked each other why they couldn't just buy energy straight from a windmill they were looking at. In many sectors, like the hotel industry, it became very normal for be in direct contact with the provider, but the energy market was still firmly under control by the status quo. What started with that simple question became a very technical answer, but in the end (thanks to an investment of € 1.900.000 by the Triodos Bank and the Dutch Greentech Fund) the underlying technology of the website makes it possible to do in fact buy energy straight from the source!

Team

The three founders, Aart van Veller, Remco Wilcke & Matthijs Guichelaar, have a track record of entrepreneurship and innovation in renewable energy. Since the rapid growth, there are now 55 people working at Vandebron, most of them at the Customer Care department. Our energy sources produce the energy, but we arrange everything from administration and customer related questions (for farmers this wouldn't really be possible). Our whole team consists of people crazy enough to believe they can change the world, and together, we just might.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Colleague

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Copywriter (filling this in on behalve of the founders)

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Affordable and Clean Energy.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

Remco, Matthijs and Aart have pioneered several initiatives in the field of renewables, like a new way to sell LED-lightings and to help companies save money and energy. But none of their former initiatives grew as fast as Vandebron is doing now.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

We have many partners, like Tesla Motors, the Triodos Bank, Consumentenbond, Rabobank and WWF.