Univé to scale up sustainable energy project that replaces asbestos roofs with solar roofs

1 November 2021


“A unique collaboration” is how Dutch ICMIF member Univé along with partners, cooperative banking group Rabobank and green energy supplier Greenchoice, describe the ambitious plans to take a big step together in the area of sustainable energy in the Netherlands. The goal is to remove harmful asbestos roofs from farms and other business premises, replacing them with solar panels. Univé members buy the green electricity from these roofs for a fair price, part of which is then used for new solar roofs. This stimulates further sustainability.

It is estimated that there are some 80 million square metres of asbestos roofs on Dutch business premises. According to Arjen Schouten, Chief Financial and Risk Officer of Coöperatie Univé, this is not only unhealthy for the environment, but it is also increasingly difficult to insure business premises containing asbestos, which creates risks for the continuation of a business: “For many entrepreneurs, removing asbestos is an expensive business. That is why we came up with the “Duurzame Zekerheid Univé” (Sustainable Security Univé) pilot project, in which the asbestos roof is replaced with a solar roof without any negative impact on the entrepreneur’s wallet. The pilot was very successful, which is why we are pleased that we are entering a new phase with Rabobank, in which we can help even more entrepreneurs,” says Schouten.

According to Carin van Huët, Director of Food & Agri Nederland at Rabobank, this is a great step towards a sustainable future: “The bank is taking over the structuring of all the financing. “Our entry means that, just like Univé’s business members, all our business clients can also make use of Duurzame Zekerheid Univé,” says Van Huët. “For some of them, their asbestos roofs are really a problem, and this is a great solution we can offer them. Once the company roofs are connected to the energy network, we also want to give our private customers access to the sustainable energy that Duurzame Zekerheid provides.” Van Huët points out that the capacity of the energy network is not sufficient everywhere and that this, in combination with declining subsidies, can still cause significant challenges.

The cooperation with Greenchoice makes it possible for consumers to buy the energy from these roofs for a fair price. Part of the energy price is reinvested: for every KWh consumed, at least 2% goes to the investment in asbestos-free solar roofs. As a customer, you not only use green electricity, but you also contribute to making your own region more sustainable. “In that respect, Duurzame Zekerheid fits perfectly with the mission of Greenchoice,” says Paulien Jeurissen, Commercial Manager of Greenchoice. “We not only want to accelerate the energy transition, but also want everyone to benefit from it.”

“Duurzame Zekerheid contributes to the energy transition and the ambitions we have in the Netherlands, in a regional way that characterises our cooperative.” To accelerate the availability of Duurzame Zekerheid in the Netherlands, Arjen Schouten is pleased to be able to count on the expertise of Rabobank and Greenchoice. “Through the unique cooperation with Rabobank, we reach many agricultural entrepreneurs. Greenchoice is the greenest energy supplier we know, and together we want to have transformed at least 500 business premises from an asbestos problem to an energy-producing location by the end of 2022, which will be able to heat and light some 50,000 households in the future,” said Schouten.

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