Netherlands

Netherlands

Playing to the purse not the conscience -- Rock bottom green power prices

Dutch green power retailer Energie Concurrent is selling green electricity for less than the rate of fossil fuel power. Promising customers that when it opens for business on July 1 its green power price will undercut the grey power price of current suppliers by NLG 0.01, Energie Concurrent is the first concern to actively use price-cutting as a green power marketing tool.

Start-up green power retailer Energie Concurrent looks set to shake up the Dutch power market by selling green electricity for less than the rate of fossil fuel power. Promising customers that when it opens for business on July 1 its green power price will undercut the grey power price of current suppliers by NLG 0.01, Energie Concurrent is the first concern to actively use price-cutting as a green power marketing tool.

"With the ecotax on grey power and minimum overheads it will be quite possible for us to undercut the grey power price of Dutch utilities," says John Appeldoorn, one of the three founders of the new company. Holding out the prospect of an annual saving of NLG 35 on electricity bills and as one of only two green power retailers enjoying the full endorsement of Greenpeace Netherlands, Energie Concurrent has been signing up some 20-40 new customers a day. As such Appeldoorn's concerns are about supply rather than demand.

"At present we have about 21 GWh of green power contracted exclusively from Dutch wind farms -- that's enough for some 6000 households, assuming an average of 3500 kilowatt hours a year. That should be enough for this year." After that Appeldoorn expects capacity to have been exhausted.

From that point he concedes there may be problems. With the government refusing to allow the certification of any imported renewable energy -- and hence its resale as green power (Windpower Monthly, June 2001), Energie Concurrent will be forced to find new capacity on the domestic market where most renewables producers are tied to long term contracts with the utilities. Nor is its position helped by its policy of offering only wind, solar and small hydro.

Best price in town

"We will buy green certificates wherever we can," says Appeldoorn. "We are also offering the best price for certificates so we have plenty of wind farmers who want to sell to us. However, it remains to be seen whether existing contracts cover both physical power and certificates, as the utilities claim," he says. Or whether wind turbine operators are right when they say the contracts are just for the physical power.

"In the long term, offering a good price for certificates will stimulate Dutch renewables production. If at first we can't get enough certificates we will introduce a waiting list, but ideally we are looking to increase our customers by a factor of four next year."

While the company is the first to make a play directly to the pocket rather than the conscience of its customers, it is not looking to get rich quick, says Appeldoorn. "We want to bring the benefits of the green power market to the individual consumer and thereby stimulate renewables production." As proof of its green credentials, he points out that while other green power retailers can be charged with selling green on the one hand and importing nuclear and brown coal on the other, Energie Concurrent will meet its physical power commitments exclusively from Swedish hydro.

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