[Interview] Sidney Zeeman, Sales and Business Development Manager, Independent Energy BV
Independent Energy BV is a company that designs, manufactures and install on- and off-grid solar and backup solutions worldwide from small house-size systems to large complete “plug and play” installations. The company has invested in modern technologies and systems which ensure that performance of the solar solutions can be assessed real time and technical issues can be detected at an early stage. Sidney Zeeman, the Sales and Business Development Manager explains.
Please introduce Independent Energy
Independent Energy has been designing and installing solar systems from our offices, warehouse and workshop in Haarlem, the Netherlands, since 2011.
We are a system integrator and EPC that specializes in autonomous and backup power supply systems. We design and manufacture off-grid solar systems in-house, and we install and commission solar projects all over the world. We deliver, install, and service complete projects that provide continuous energy to any load, whether it is an industrial application, a hospital, a cold storage facility, or a remote village.
Our systems are built to last in some of the world’s most hostile environments. Demanding environments necessitate specialized solutions and in-depth knowledge of system design. This includes thermal design optimization, redundancy, and reliability, as well as long-lasting configurations at competitive prices. Our standard is high quality and reliability.
Wat is your role in the company?
I am the Sales and Business Development Manager at Independent Energy. My responsibilities are varied, but my primary focus together with our Founder Peter van Zwol, is on managing the sales cycle and ensuring that we develop strong relationships with our clients. A well-maintained solar system has a very long lifespan, and our relationship with the client lasts for the duration of the solar system's operation. In the early stages of this relationship, this could mean conceptualizing the ideal system for the client's energy needs while also establishing a good working relationship. Later on, this could mean assisting in the expansion of the system if the energy needs grow, or assisting in the resolution of technical problems in collaboration with our design engineers.
What countries does Independent Energy work in?
Independent Energy has a global presence and partners all over the world. We have completed projects in numerous countries and have established relationships with dependable partners in each of these countries.
Our primary focus, however, is Africa. We see Africa as a continent with limitless potential and a high demand for energy. We have a presence in Nigeria, The Gambia, Niger, Djibouti, Somalia, Madagascar, South Africa, Zimbabwe, Cameroon, Sierra Leone, Egypt, Tunisia and Rwanda
Who are your clients?
We don’t have any specific client profile per say. Each client and project have unique requirements, and our primary goal is to assist our clients in designing, manufacturing, and installing the ideal system on time and within budget. These projects can range from off-grid industrial solar systems to solar-diesel hybrid systems, micro grids, and any other renewable energy system that the client requires. We are happy to assist regardless of how large or small, technical, or simple the system requirements are.
What does the market want from Independent Energy?
I would say that we are expected to provide a system that is specifically tailored to the needs of the client. As I mentioned in my previous response, this entails conceptualizing, designing, manufacturing, and installing the ideal system on time and on budget.
Renewable energy technology is also evolving daily, so we must stay in touch and up to date with all the latest technologies in this environment. We can assist the client in determining the best possible solution while considering all the latest technologies.
We spend a significant amount of time explaining and demonstrating to clients how a solution will save them money in the long run while also ensuring they have a reliable autonomous source of energy.
What would you say gives Independent Energy the competitive edge in the vast growing sustainable energy market?
To be competitive in today's renewable energy market, a diverse set of skills is required. Technical knowledge is essential in this field, as is the ability to communicate this knowledge to customers. We understand that we are, in essence, providing a service to the client in the form of energy delivery. We see communication between the customer and ourselves as the foundation upon which we can build a successful working relationship.
We believe that having the right mix of old and new is critical in the sustainable energy environment. In other words, it is necessary to strike a balance between the use of new technologies and tried-and-tested technologies to produce a suitable solution that will last in the long run. We do all this by means of building strong and trusting relationships with our clients and partners.
For many companies choosing sustainable energy means a big investment. How can Independent Energy help with that?
For many clients, investing in sustainable energy appears to be an expensive endeavor. The initial capital outlay can be substantial, which scares off many potential customers. However, it is critical to consider the big picture and the long term when it comes to energy.
The beauty of sustainable energy is that it is essentially free energy once the initial investment is made. There are numerous ways to fund these systems, and Independent Energy has a solution designed specifically for this purpose. We established the Independent Energy Fund to address this issue.
As a result, the client can lease the desired system from the Fund for a set period, with the option of owning the system at the end of the lease term. The benefit of this is that they will still pay less for energy than they would if an alternative energy source was used, and at the end of the lease period, they will have full ownership of the system. In the long run, this drastically reduces the energy bill and saves the client money.
What are the ambitions of Independent Energy?
We know that by 2050, there will be approximately 10 billion people on the planet who will require energy. The use of fossil fuels to provide this energy is not an option anymore, and renewable energy is the best solution. As a result, our goal is to produce systems that can supply energy that is increasingly affordable, clean, reliable, and accessible to the greatest number of people, in order to contribute to the long-term sustainable development of the planet. We see a great need for this in Africa and we can see ourselves play a significant role in energy supply to this beautiful continent.
What does your company need to grow and prosper?
We believe that to grow and prosper, we must earn the trust of our clients as well as the communities in which they live. We need to educate people about the benefits of renewable energy. There is a widespread misconception that renewable energy is expensive, when in many cases the exact opposite is true. We have the opportunity to create a sustainable planet while also saving people money on their energy bills.
If we want to grow and prosper as a sustainable energy company, we need to show our clients what their energy options are. We must be able to persuade them that solar energy is the ideal solution to their energy needs.
Persuade is a strong word; educate is a better one. Making people understand the benefits of renewable energy and educating them on how it will benefit them financially, while also benefiting their direct environment is key to our growth.
What is the latest news from your company?
We have many exciting ongoing projects at the moment. If I must single out one, I would say our project that is ongoing in Somalia is quite exciting.
We are in the final stages of a 2 MW solar array installation in Somalia. We designed a solar system to supplement an existing diesel generator grid in Mogadishu, Somalia, where there is very little access to electricity. This 2 MW solar installation, which includes all power distribution panels and hardware, will provide solar energy to the local grid during the day. This project should be completed in the first quarter of 2022.