Generating your own energy

15th of December 2022
Generating your own energy

John Griep at VSR in the Netherlands reports on a meeting discussing climate and energy transition.

As a platform and knowledge institution for the professional cleaning sector, VSR organised an event on Climate and Energy Transition recently.

The urgency of the energy transition, which needs to take place on a massive scale, is finally dawning on most people. This is also true for Milan and Patrick van der Meulen, both barely 30 years old and owners of a company providing solar energy systems since 2013.

They realised 15 years ago we cannot continue emitting CO2 and damaging our climate. They saw the documentary An Inconvenient Truth by the former US vice president Al Gore. Several years later they followed his training course, becoming both business owners and Climate Reality Leaders in 2015. VSR invited them to inspire cleaning professionals to make changes. It is clear we need to start doing things differently. But can and will we actually do it?

“We chose not to be part of the problem, but part of the solution,” says Patrick. “We try to engage as many people and businesses with the events of today – the energy crisis, the nitrogen crisis, the economic crisis, hyperinflation and - as the common thread - our climate.”

Milan added: “We are an emissions-oriented society. CO2 is released as a result of almost everything we do and it passes directly into that very thin layer of the atmosphere. It is released by food production and the use of vehicles but also results from the way we generate our energy, 80 per cent of which is still not being produced sustainably.”

According to the brothers the consequences are visible to all: in the Netherlands, 20 of the 21 warmest years have occurred since 2002. The warming of our oceans is causing major downpours and flooding. Heat sucks moisture from the ground, leading to forest fires and rendering agricultural land infertile. Even from an economic perspective, this is a finite model.

Power is still hierarchically based. Consumers are dependent on suppliers and the business model demands that as much energy as possible is consumed. The amount of energy available, however, is limited which results in price rises. According to the brothers, we are also transitioning from centralised energy generation to a decentralised network in which everyone generates and stores their own energy. After all, the availability of renewable energy from solar and wind power is infinite and will cause prices to fall.

Said Patrick: “If we were to become CO2 neutral from now, global warming would cease within three to five years.” Political leadership is essential but as long as politicians fail to take action, the movement will be put into action from the grass roots upwards, ie, by citizens and businesses.

Milan added: “A unique moment has arrived. We all should ask ourselves: what is my role? What can I do now to contribute towards solving this climate issue?”

The nice thing about the Milan and Patrick’s message is that, as well as evoking the scenario we now are in, they are both confident it is possible to turn the tide. The difference lies between telling a story and inspiring others. People must identify the opportunities that exist in their own situation and have the will to bring about change.


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