I recently had the opportunity to meet Lars Falch one of the founders of Powerpeers.nl, an exciting new tech company, at their headquarter, just outside of Amsterdam in the Netherlands. It is not every day you get a chance to sit down with one of the founders of a game-changing tech company to hear their story.
Like so many other great game changing tech companies their story also began in a garage, in 2016. Lars and co set out with a vision to change how the world produces, consume and share energy – and they are the first in the world with a solution that enables this vision, true pioneers.
Lars is a tech veteran that created the world’s first digital marketing bureau before there was even something called the internet. With more than 20 years of innovating and developing companies and business in both the internet and renewable energy space, he brought the two together and founded Powerpeers.
I asked Lars what Powerpeers is. ‘Powerpeers is the world’s first real-time peer2peer energy sharing platform, that allows you to share and consume energy with or from your neighbor, your favorite soccer club or anyone else as long as you both use Powerpeers platform’ Lars said, and continued ‘most people that hear this for the first time goes what? Is this even possible?’ I have to admit this was also my first thought, but Lars explained how it is made possible on Powerpeers platform – or energy community as he also calls it.
Sharing is caring
Lars explained it like this: ‘more and more people have started to produce their own energy either by using solar panels or perhaps through wind power. The reality is that they many times produce more energy than they consume and can then chose to sell the excess energy to the community – and in times when they consume more energy than they produce they can buy from the community, making them both producers and consumers or prosumers’.
‘Users in the community have an app in which they can look up and choose from whom they purchase energy from. So if say your neighbor is in the community and is producing energy that he or she offers to the community, then you can open the app, search for him or her and chose to buy your energy directly from him or her – or better yet, if you are a soccer fan of Ajax Amsterdam, you can actually buy energy from them and thereby support your local soccer club. At this time it is only the consumer who can select the source, but as the Powerpeers platform evolve, it will eventually move toward a mutual agreements / closed communities where also the producer can choose the destination ’.
Lars when you say communities, what do you mean by that? Lars: ‘Think of this as WhatsApp groups. If you, your friends, family and or colleagues all use the Powerpeers platform then you can create a community and share the energy you produce with each other. You could also choose to join one of the many communities that already exist on the platform’.
Who sets the price
Two part question Lars. Let’s say I am an energy producer, can I then choose the price I sell my energy at, and at what intervals am I paid? Lars: ‘Yes the price can technically be decided and set by the prosumers, but we learned that they do not want to make use of this feature at this time – but in near future when they are ready, then yes it will be possible. You have the choice to choose when you get paid. In principle, you could be paid in real-time as the energy is consumed, but most of our prosumers prefer to accumulate and be paid once a month – some even wait longer, again you decide’.
A case study for regulators
What if I and my friends decided to produce and share energy between us, can we then create a platform and just go ahead or how does that work? Lars: ‘No, there are regulations that need to be followed. Just like a regular energy supplier need an energy distribution license so does Powerpeers. In fact, the regulations Powerpeers has to comply with are stricter than those that apply to a regular energy supplier. The reason for this is that Powerpeers use a peer2peer network where it is the consumers themselves that produce and share the energy. In addition to this regular audits are also required to further ensure compliance’.
‘The fact is that this concept is so new that many countries still do not have the regulations in place to enable and support this consumer peer2peer sharing. The Netherlands is one of the first countries that implemented such regulations, and with Powerpeers being the pioneer in this field, other countries regulators look both to the Netherlands and Powerpeers to understand how this has been done. In fact, Powerpeers serve as a consultant, and are regularly visited by other countries regulators and energy companies in order to help them understand how it works and how to implement it in their own country’.
Powerpeers role in the Netherlands
At this point, I am sure there is some confusion about why you call yourself a tech company because up till now we have spoken more about you in a supplier role. Lars: ‘The concept builds and run on Powerpeers software platform that is developed in-house, but since we are the first in the world to pioneer this solution it was only natural to also take up a “supplier” role in the Netherlands. The tech part refers to what Powerpeers actually has developed, a cloud-based ‘energy company in a box’ solution that can be licensed and implemented by energy companies around the world. We see ourselves as a software company that will continue to improve, develop and innovate on our platform’.
You said earlier that it is possible to see the consumption and cost in real-time, track the source of produce and in general have transparency of the transactions from start to end. This sound very similar to what the blockchain technology offer, and from earlier reports it has been made out to you are building your solution on a blockchain. Is that correct? Lars: ‘No, we do not use a blockchain technology for our solution. We are, however, exploring how and what from the blockchain technology could be used in the future, but since it is still under development I cannot get into it in details. The reason for why we are not using a blockchain is that it, as with all new techs, has some shortcomings that need to be solved. These include transaction speed and how to store a vast amount of data on the blockchain’.
I know your solution is proprietary, but without giving too much away can you give an insight into the basics of it? Lars ‘Yes, it is basically a large database with a lot of algorithms running on top to ensure synchronization of the transactions and time and date’.
Lars, I want to thank you for the opportunity and for taking time out to give me a firsthand insight into Powerpeers and its solution. I am very excited to follow you and hope we can do a follow up with you when you implement elements of the blockchain technology. Thank you for your time.
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