The Planet

The P2P Model is Coming to Energy

by Isis Madrid

February 10, 2015

Ever dreamt of a world where you could choose your renewable energy provider a-la-Airbnb? The new person-to-person electricity trend, which began in the Netherlands in 2013 and spread to the UK, is bringing the innovative concept to life.

The Amsterdam based Vandebron, which translates to “from the source,” provides a direct marketplace between local farms generating clean power and local homeowners and businesses looking for a  low cost, no fuss renewable energy source.

Screenshot via Vandebron website

There are currently 16 farms with profiles on the online marketplace providing energy to hundreds of thousands of consumers. Some even host meet-your-provider get togethers on the farms, allowing their energy consumers to get to know them on a personal level and creating a community of renewable energy enthusiasts. Co-founder Art van Veller believes that in addition to environmental and community building pros, Vandebron allows everyone involved to save/make money and suggests that Holland's independent producers could power to up to 1 million consumers. 

While Holland’s deregulated energy market was the prime breeding ground for this idealism brought-to-life, UK startup Open Utility is attempting to pull off a similar program in a more complicated environment.

While Vandebron manages to cut utilities out of the equation entirely, Open Utility, which plans to launch its pilot program this summer will partner with a to-be-determined utility company to underwrite and facilitate energy transactions. Like Vandebron, Open Utility will pair energy consumers with local producers. They currently have 25 producers signed up, from winds farms to schools with leftover solar power, and plan to match them up with businesses that wish to use renewable energy. Everything will be underwritten by the utility company, who will also make sure to provide backup power to customers in case of momentary shortages.

Once the pilot program wraps up, Open Utility, which has received  $750,000 from the government, will provide a detailed report which they hope will sway utility companies to underwrite future transactions and the government to tweak regulations to allow private consumers to buy in.

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The P2P Model is Coming to Energy