Smart investments in sustainability and electrification

Jeroen Scholten,Senior Business Developer Energy transition, Rabobank

At Rabobank, we’re sparring with companies every day, in order to translate their strategic plans and budgets into investments in buildings, machinery, installations, people, processes, software, and more. With the electrification of heat, transport and industry and the resulting grid congestion, sustainable energy supply has become a boardroom topic, with CEOs and CFOs increasingly getting involved alongside the Head of Technical Services. As a bank, we’re developing and continuously updating a clear vision on these topics. This allows us to assist companies with knowledge, our network, and financing and help accelerate the Energy Transition.

It ought to be so much easier to reach agreements about grid capacity management. For example, one party’s surplus could easily be freed up at a specific time to help out another party with a deficit. The Netherlands’ proposed new Energy Law can bring new opportunities and accelerate the Energy Transition by formalizing group capacity agreements and limitations. However, there are new questions about how such a law might operate in practice. For example, with regard to sharing energy with the neighborhood, which is sure to have financial and tax consequences, or how to distribute scarce grid capacity.

Many companies we engage with are keen to invest in expanding or strengthening production lines or other operations, but face capacity constraints. They often observe congestion on a particular transformer, without realizing there is still sufficient capacity available on other transformers, or at neighboring companies. Often, they’re looking at peak loads, while in practice these are relatively manageable. In many cases, the grid is less congested than one might think. While there may be congestion at high-voltage level, there can still be plenty of capacity at medium-voltage level, for instance. When we overlay energy generation and consumption profiles, we often see plenty of scope. Incidentally, there are still major energy savings to be made, for example in reactive power optimization. Companies are increasingly starting to take stock of their energy consumption, but not yet looking beyond the boundaries of their own organizations. Fortunately, more and more business and industrial estates are now jointly tackling these challenges. Hopefully, the new energy law will also make it easier for companies to cooperate and look beyond their own facilities.

One really nice best practice is the Ecofactorij initiative in Apeldoorn. This sustainable business park offers an excellent location for logistics companies, thanks to its accessibility and availability of its own sustainable electricity and fiber networks. Ecofactorij supports efficient business by monitoring energy revenues from solar parks, which contribute to sustainable business operations. This type of energy hub, where companies make smart use of capacity and conclude agreements to share it, offers huge potential.

Emission-free working: challenges for logistics and construction companies

Electrification of transport is crucial for the Energy Transition because it can contribute significantly to reducing CO2 emissions and support the integration of renewable energy sources into existing infrastructure. Many of the enquiries we receive are from transport and construction companies keen to operate without emissions. They are looking for power provision at sites at which they carry out projects, or on the road. In addition, many entrepreneurs want to be more sustainable by installing solar panels or wind turbines, for example, but see too much red tape. In these instances, we help think through the business case, financing options and potential partners. In my opinion, sustainability ambitions should never be abandoned because of obstacles; we need to find solutions together.

Models and simulations are essential for this, but don’t always get the attention they deserve. It is important to not only look at historical data, but also calculate future plans. For instance, how many electric trucks is a transport firm planning to add each year? How much of your own electricity can you generate? How many charging points will an office building need in five years’ time? All this needs to be worked out step by step, considering the grid, your installation capacity, and how everything can be optimally sized. Planning energy consumption is crucial, too: can the use of machinery be spread out throughout the day to avoid peaks? Can this be optimized in consultation with other companies to reduce the risk of grid congestion? How can you optimally deal with the fluctuating supply (and therefore price) of green electricity? What flexibility in your process can you control, allowing you to manage energy demand and/or temporary storage? We’re happy to advise, but don’t always know exactly what’s going on behind the meters in installations. Offering the best advice requires customized monitoring, measurement, and simulation. Once you know which direction to take, you need to have everything calculated by a specialist consultant and map your entire site taking current consumption patterns and future developments into account. Companies like HyTEPS play an essential role in this.

Collaboration and innovation: key to success

Examples of smart collaboration include  shifting production to nighttime, or charging vehicles at the end of the day with power using a battery that is charged with solar energy during the day. The temperature in a cold storage room may be raised slightly during peak hours in order to free up capacity on the power grid. Making agreements about the optimal distribution of capacity should be commonplace. Large consumers can do more to fight consumption imbalances and congestion, but this requires insight into other parties’ processes and data as well as close cooperation with grid operators. This requires a change in mentality and habits, in which insight into one’s own processes is the first step. Everyone needs to understand that energy can no longer be taken for granted and that we all share a responsibility to use it smartly.

At Rabobank, we’ve developed the tool in collaboration with several market parties. This helps customers gain insight into vehicle electrification, including cost comparisons between diesel and electric trucks, as well as power self-generation and storage options. The Rabo Electric tool supports companies in making informed choices with regard to electrifying transport. This allows companies to optimize energy management throughout the year and receive strategic guidance on the Energy Transition, including Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) scenarios and advice on infrastructure, such as charging stations and smart energy systems.

Exporting the Netherlands’s knowledge and head start

Together with Norway, Sweden and Denmark, the Netherlands is at the forefront of electrification, thanks to solid policy measures, government support, investments in renewable energy and strong infrastructure for electric vehicles, supported by technological innovation. Exporting this knowledge could be interesting for the Netherlands. We could share our knowledge and leadership to help other countries, with the government and banks playing an important role.

The Energy Transition is a complex but essential movement that requires collaboration, innovation, and strategic planning. Companies need to look beyond their boundaries and work together to make the most of their energy infrastructure. With the right support, tools, and regulations, we can take steps towards a more sustainable future together. At Rabobank, we are ready to guide companies through this transition, with advice, financing, and innovative solutions. The key to success lies in insight, cooperation, and joint responsibility for a sustainable energy supply.

Jeroen Scholten has a background in electrical engineering and finance. He has worked at Rabobank for thirteen years and is involved in financing for permanent and temporary energy solutions, frequently for very large companies. Prior to this, he worked in the electrical industry for ten years. In his current position, he works with a specialist team on a wide range of projects and requests: from congestion issues and fleet electrification to storage projects and energy hubs. He has also set up an Energy Cooperative in his hometown.


Contact us

Interested in the possibilities for your organization? HyTEPS would be happy to help you! Fill out the form and we will contact you as soon as possible.

HyTEPS Engineer

    Scroll to Top