Speaker Series: Tim Helweg-Larsen of EnergyBank

It’s interesting to me that when people sit down to talk about a socially entrepreneurial solution, pill there is always some initial discussion about what exactly social entrepreneurship means.  Sure, it can be nebulous and complex, and the clarifying discussion is important.

But for me (who believes social entrepreneurship boils down to purpose, market orientation and system disruptiveness), I’d rather just dive straight in with the entrepreneurs getting things done.

After our most recent Skoll Centre Speaker Series, I think it’s fair to say Tim Helweg-Larsen would agree.  Tim, the founder of EnergyBank, shared his personal priorities of combating climate change through renewable energy.  It was great to see how Tim has put those priorities to work as the driving force behind EnergyBank.

EnergyBank envisions a Europe-wide market in energy-bonds, backed by renewable assets and owned by the people and businesses that use them.  In short, customers are turned into investors/owners and capital is unlocked for renewable energy sources.


Why this make sense

1)      When customers become investors/owners they future proof the costs of their energy.  Production costs charged by traditional systems are avoided.  This makes a big difference when you think about monthly average energy consumption and rising costs!  Plus any extra energy produced by customer-owned renewables can be sold for profit.

2)      Do you know how much an off-shore wind farm costs?  Trust Tim, it’s a lot.  EnergyBank’s system could raise enough capital to help build such renewable infrastructure.  (It’s great for the average Joe who wants to fight climate change, but doesn’t have 1 billion pounds lying around.)

3)      It’s good for the environment (more renewables mean less fossil fuels), customers/owners, and business.


Why not?

With so much common sense embedded in EnergyBank, it seems simple. It makes me think, “why haven’t we just done this already?”  But I think we all know (including Tim) it’s going to be very challenging to change the existing energy system.  All the “wrong” things are incentivized. Plus it’s complex, multi-faceted and been functioning “happily” for several decades.  Think about the “people factor” and it becomes even trickier.  For every one of someone who thinks like me, I’m sure there are 100 of those who say, “why should we do this?”  Pile on the fact most energy users probably don’t even think about the system to begin with, and you’ve got an idea of how much work needs to be done.

Nevertheless, it was great to hear Tim’s commitment, priorities and progress thus.  With a strong purpose, market orientation and serious potential for disrupting the system, I’m sure EnergyBank will have us all saying “why didn’t we do this sooner”.