Tjeerd’s favorite sustainability initiative: Windcentrale

Choosing a favorite initiative can be hard. At first, I thought “I’ll write about the Repair Café initiative, where you can get electronics, clothes or even bicycles repaired for free”. Then Urgenda won their lawsuit against the Dutch government, forcing the government to follow through on its promise to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 25%. This got me thinking…

When I heard the Dutch government decided to appeal this verdict, I started asking myself: “What can I do?”. Well, besides insulating my house, getting my neighbors to do the same via Klimaatstraatfeest (and trying to win a BBQ party for the whole street), I changed my mind on this blog and decided to ‘share a windmill’.

What is it?

The fact that my colleague Caspar already wrote about investing in offshore windmills didn’t stop me from writing again on this topic. But in my opinion, writing about windmills twice should not come as a surprise. We are Dutch, after all…

Not being much of an investor, I chose de Windcentrale, an initiative that actually supplies me with the energy from the windmill, so I use the electricity generated at home, reducing my monthly electricity bill by roughly 75%. Isn’t that a nice profit?

Even better, it comes with a snazzy smartphone app, which shows the live production: whether the windmill is on schedule to reach the yearly estimate and what maintenance is planned. As one of the favorite conversation topics here is the weather, I have actually taken to liking windy days, and like watching the turbine turn full speed from my mobile app.

How does it make me feel?

Green energy usually gives me a feeling of distrust. Is the electricity itself green, or was a certificate bought to make it green? Does it come from a 30-year old hydro-electric plant – the cheapest form of energy, or from a recent initiative intent on making the world a better place?

So actually owning a piece of a windmill answers these questions in the right way. Sure, wind energy comes with surplus and deficits, so some of the electricity I get at home will actually come from a coal plant, but then somebody else gets my wind energy without officially getting green energy, so that is good enough for me.

How does it work?

The Windcentrale buys existing wind turbines and sells them off to consumers as shares. We pay for the yearly maintenance but get the electricity produced for free, which is thankfully facilitated by the electricity company.

 Image credits: De Windcentrale

As an added bonus: By selling the windmill to us, the investment company that built the windmill will have new money that they can invest in windmills once again, so instead of keeping this energy for ourselves, we can indirectly create more green energy. So far, 9 windmills have been bought step-by-step, one of them actually setting a crowdfunding speed record.

What can you do?

If you’re in The Netherlands, you can join the Windcentrale. However, just jumping on the bandwagon may be harder for this month’s initiative. Nevertheless, I have seen initiatives in 8 countries, in various forms. So, find out if there’s one initiative in your area which you could join. If none are near you, well… Who is stopping you from creating your own bandwagon? I’m sure most communities will gladly show you their blueprints and share tips on how to build an energetic community.

Other sustainable initiatives we like:

Tjeerd Raijmakers

Tjeerd worked for PRé as a Software Tester and Analyst from 2012 to 2020. He was responsible for providing consultancy services collecting data, building LCA models in SimaPro, assessing the results and preparing project deliverables as well as testing software products developed by PRé. His contributions made a difference in projects like the BioScope tool for assessing biodiversity and the carbon footprinting tool for the Dutch dairy sector.

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