Photograph by Customer in View, Bart Lindenhovius
In 2013, Enie was founded by brothers Patrick and Milan van der Meulen. They had only one goal in mind: to make solar energy available to everyone. “We seize the challenges of the energy transition with both hands! That way, everyone can enjoy cheap, climate-neutral and decentralised energy as soon as possible”. Enie was one of the first customers of Solar Monkey. We each grew up separately, and yet together, in a market that is maturing at the same pace.
Solar Monkey spoke with Milan van der Meulen about the past, present and future of Enie and the solar energy market.
Q: You are one of the first partners of Solar Monkey; how do you see the cooperation with us and the added value it offers?
Solar Monkey helped us to create a scalable consulting concept. Thanks to the collaboration we were able to advise customers reliably from a distance, without physical visits. I also feel that our organisational growth is synchronous. We have grown quickly and are now mature organisations.
Q: How is Enie.nl doing now and what will be your focus in 2021?
Things are going well. In the Netherlands, we are still fulfilling our ambitions. Currently, we are also entering other markets. It strikes us that we make connections surprisingly quickly with the help of our international network of contacts. Because our sales focus is on remote working, which is very well facilitated by Solar Monkey, we can easily serve other countries. For each country we have made a roadmap with the steps to take. Step by step we are now working on implementing these plans.
Q: Do you encounter unexpected challenges abroad?
No, not really. Our quick scan has mapped out which countries are interesting for us. If you look at South Africa, for example, you can see an enormous need for a stable form of energy. In terms of maturity, the market there is comparable to the Dutch market of a few years ago. Of course, there are very different logistical challenges. The distances are not comparable, for example. We also had to get used to the fact that storage is the standard there.
“Solar Monkey has helped us to create a scalable consulting concept.”
Q: How are you doing in relation to the corona crisis?
Of course, it is difficult to compare the situation with how things would have been if there had not been Corona. Demand is slightly lower, but still more than sufficient. There are now about 1 million households in the Netherlands that already run on solar energy. In total, there are around 8 million households in the Netherlands, so there is still a lot of potential. On a private level, the solar energy market will continue to grow steadily in the coming years. At the same time, people will start to consume more smartly and install batteries.
The business world is finally making the switch to solar energy, too! The corporate world plays an essential role in completing the energy transition. In fact, no more subsidies are needed to make the economically beneficial switch to solar energy. Most companies will start saving immediately. Others will maintain the same energy bill, but will start using renewable energy directly. With batteries available in the near future, the switch will become profitable soon.
Q: What business phase are you in?
We have long passed the start-up phase and are now in the scale-up phase. Our early years are behind us, we have passed the stage of adolescence and are now moving into adulthood.
Q: How do you feel about that?
Solid growth obviously has its attractions, but letting go of the operation is not always easy. Fortunately, we have created a great team to take the next steps, both in internal and external expansion.
”Our early years are behind us, we have passed the stage of adolescence and are now moving into adulthood.”
Q: Is there any development you would like to see in Solar Monkey?
Solar Monkey’s target group now consists of installers. But your product is so easy to use; the end customer could do more themselves. Then the preservation of the Netherlands would go a lot faster.
Q: How do you see this market in 5 years time?
We expect the product solar panels to be increasingly combined with energy storage. Or, for example, solar panels in combination with a charging station if you buy an electric car. The sun remains the most accessible decentralised energy source and is our very preference. Except perhaps for small windmills, which can be a good addition as a power generator. Solar parks do not fit into our philosophy at all. First fill the empty roofs and only then build solar fields.