Amsterdam Talks Tech: Smart energy in review

Now before I start,  I need you to know that the set of 4 speakers that  I listened to were each an eye opener, in very different ways.

Get me some solar panels, now.

Each speaker induced an immediate thought process in my head, thinking of why and how companies don’t operate in a more  sustainable way. Their words also forced me to attack my phone like a keyboard warrior, demanding my parents to install solar panels immediately. In June’s edition of Talks Tech we invited four pioneers from the sustainable world to share their ideas and approach to sustainable energy. The audience were invited to ask questions and gain an insight to how they formed their ventures and executed their sustainable, entrepreneurial journey.

Feel the benefits.

Up first we heard the wise words from Aart van Veller (Vandebron) &  Sven Pluut (ZonnepanelenDelen). Aart’s venture is a direct supply of energy from the grid, utilising sustainable resources  from local energy farmers. Sven, operates a little differently, and acts as the middle man, making it easier, and worthwhile in connecting consumers to projects in order to boost the investment in environmental resources.  The two both admitted that being sustainable can be hard, but where they can, they insure that they choose the better option. In this day and age, especially in the current economy, it’s hard to attain a 100% sustainable life. When it comes to the consumer,  the fundamental factors that deter people from using renewable energy is the cost, and also the reliability.

Aart then went on to make an interesting point that marketing yourself to be a reliable energy source (i.e you return home from work and your lights are guaranteed to work) against energy resource hogging giants such as Nuon & Essent is pretty hard. Corporate companies have an automated level of trust asserted within their brand, usually to do with the amounts of money they make. He believes that their recent ad, where potential consumers can identify where their energy is coming from, really helps people understand that they are not only benefitting the environment, but they have an idea and control of where their money is going to.

Fuel for thought.

Like many others, I was guilty myself in assuming renewable energy was more expensive. Both Vandebron & ZonnepanelenDelen make the investment worthwhile. At first you may bump into  increased costs, via means of installation, but the actual cost per unit of energy is cheaper. For example, Sven told us that he works on projects such as installing solar panels on school buildings. He finds local investors and the total energy savings get deduced from their annual bill. So in effect you’re making money on your own investment, and people always need energy.

Knock on effects.

Investing in green(er) energy comes with a whole host of knock on effects. When you invest in green energy you’re directly supporting projects and research to make a sustainable life more achievable in the long run, as well as seeing immediate benefits of your contribution to the environment & your energy bills. The following two speakers, Ruben Walker (African Clean Energy) and  Leonie Baneke (Eneco) highlighted how the advancements in technology have contributed to the development in their products and how attaining a sustainable future has multiple benefits. Ruben is co-founder of the Ace-1. A cooking stove supplied to Sub-Saharan Africa to reduce the emission of smoke and toxic gasses. Their product converts the burning of bio-mass into cleaner gas, ultimately reducing the number of deaths caused by indoor smoke.  The benefits of the Ace-1 don’t stop there either, the stove also has USB outlets so that consumers can charge their phones and other devices too.

Leonie informed us of how it’s hard to maintain the balance of sustainability amongst productivity. In order for companies to work in an efficient way, means of constructing renewable energy sources aren’t always 100% renewable themselves. Making  conscious effort to contribute to green energy where possible is all we can do, and she doesn’t see why The Netherlands can’t follow in Scandinavia’s footsteps. Her challenge is to find young start-ups that believe in the same values, fuelling their company with great ideas.

Small steps towards a big change.

All in all, this edition of Talks Tech taught us how we all need to pay attention to the choices we make. Each representative admitted that a 100% sustainable life is hard to achieve, but also showed how easy it is to make small changes that contribute a big impact. In order for us to achieve a sustainable future we need to make it more accessible for ourselves by making small investments. The night was perfectly rounded with a fruit Cointreau cocktail and a chance to network throughout.

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