Guest: Joan Collell (LinkedIn)
Organization/Company: LF Energy (LinkedIn, Twitter)/ FlexiDAO (Twitter)
Show: State of Energy
Summary: FlexiDAO provides software solutions and advisory to help companies achieve their net-zero goals by eliminating the carbon emissions from the electricity that they buy. The company helps organizations by monitoring and certifying the origin of their power and its carbon emissions every hour of the day. The company uses blockchain technology as a certification enabler to ensure credibility to their claims.
Joan Collell, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at FlexiDAO, joins us on TFiR to talk about how the Dutch startup actually helps companies reduce their carbon footprint, why it joined LF Energy, the role FlexiDAO will be playing in the LF Energy ecosystem, and more.
Talking about the challenges that the world is facing today when it comes to embracing green energy, Collell says, “I think there’s a big challenge that we all need to overcome related to standardization. Most companies still do not have a standard way to report on carbon emissions. There are no specific rules that go into details. There is a Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol that establishes certain guidelines, but it’s still quite loose.”
He feels that the LF Energy is playing the most important role in bringing about the much needed changes, which go beyond creating open source software and bringing players together. “I think LF Energy can help drive standards and common understandings on how to treat carbon emission accounting for the industries to have a common language to speak and to ensure transparency and credibility of reporting of emissions,” says Collell. “If it comes from a broader ecosystem of industry participants, it is much more robust than individual claims that are done company by company. So I think LF Energy can act as an ecosystem, kind of bringing the forces together of the industry into one single voice.”
Highlights of the show:
- How is FlexiDAO helping organizations purchase carbon-free electricity?
- What role is LF Energy playing in making the world greener?
- What are the biggest challenges companies face while reducing carbon footprint?
About Joan Collell: Joan Collell is the co-founder and Chief Commercial Officer at FlexiDAO. Joan brings experience working as a strategy consultant for the power sector at Bain & Company.
About FlexiDAO: FlexiDAO’s mission is to help companies buy carbon-free electricity every hour of the day and reach absolute zero emissions. Their blockchain-based software tracks the source of the electricity and its true carbon content, 24/7. This transparency is supporting companies such as Microsoft or Vodafone to demonstrate real emission reduction and differentiate from competitors.
Here is the full, unedited transcript of the show:
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Hi, this is your host Swapnil Bhartiya and welcome to LF Energy, State of Energy Show. And today we have with us, Joan Collell, Co-Founder and Chief Commercial Officer at FlexiDAO. Thank you so much for joining us on the show.
Joan Collel: Thank you very much. It’s a pleasure to be here.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: You folks recently joined LF Energy, but before we talk about your involvement with LF Energy, I want to understand a bit about the company itself. You’re a co-founder, so tell us, what is the company all about?
Joan Collel: We were founded four years ago with the mission of helping companies eliminate the emissions from the electricity that they buy. And the way we do that is by monitoring and certifying the origin of that power, and its carbon emissions every hour of the day. We use blockchain technology as a certification enabler.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you go a bit deeper into when you talk about helping companies reduce their carbon footprint or the decarbonizing goal? Are you talking about any specific sector or you’re talking about in general?
Joan Collel: In general. So the world must cut 50% of carbon emissions by 2030 and electricity counts for approximately 25% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions. And for this reason, companies have placed now as a top priority, the purchase of carbon free energy. But how can companies really know if the energy that they buy is really free of carbon? Sometimes the wind doesn’t blow and the sun doesn’t shine. So the way we solve that is by getting into more transparent traceability of the source of that power. We connect directly to renewable energy plants, we match the CO2 data of that hourly production that is happening at a particular moment of time, and we allocate that data to the consumption of a particular company. We’ve seen especially the data center industry take leadership on this topic of 24/7 carbon free energy sourcing.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you also talk about how you are helping them?
Joan Collel: Sure. So a practical example with one data center we’re working in Amsterdam, they are buying renewable energy directly from a wind farm, this is a power purchase agreement. And in that case, what we did is take data from the electricity production of that wind farm. So we recorded that data on the blockchain, creating a granular certificate, an hourly certificate. And then we assigned that hourly production data to the consumption of the data center.
So what the customer got is an interface, a web portal, where they could see the analytics of how the renewable production is matching on an hourly basis to their consumption, but also the underlying certificates to be able to claim in a credible way that their CO2 was really eliminated by the purchase of that power.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: So if I’m not wrong, more or less the solution that you’re offering is to give companies visibility into how much that they’re consuming, what impact it’s having on the environment. Is that correct?
Joan Collel: That is correct. It’s about transparency, it’s about credibility of the carbon emissions related and linked to the electricity sourcing.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Can you talk about what your solution looks like, because if I’m not wrong, there is a CFEscore and there is RESpring. So talk about your solutions that companies use.
Joan Collel: Sure. So we have a free solution that is called CFEscore. This actually is an online form. It’s a way for companies that are just getting started on the 24/7 carbon free energy journey to estimate how carbon free they really are. So in that form, they input a couple of data points, like the countries where they’re present in, the contracts that they have signed in terms of renewable energy. And then the tool will estimate how carbon free they are on an hourly basis compared to how renewable they over a yearly basis.
Then our main product is called RESpring, and that is a paid product. And there is where we actually use the blockchain to certify on an hourly basis the production sources with your consumption, and there we use real consumption data and real production data.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: And you did touch upon that. But if you can, once again, tell us what kind of users or companies you can name or not name, but I just want to understand who are leveraging your technologies and solutions.
Joan Collel: Sure. So we have public collaboration announcements with companies like Microsoft, Vodafone, but also with energy suppliers like acciona or IBERDROLA. And we tend to see interest from the industrial sector. So we don’t work with households. For now, it’s mainly companies that have strong sustainability goals and that want to show sustainability leadership on top of the current practices that are basically based on the purchase of renewable energy certificates.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Now let’s talk about your involvement with Open Source and Alexa, you earlier talked about that. Tell us first of all, how much open source you folks do and why.
Joan Collel: We do have some elements that are open source. For instance, we are actually an application layer that sits on top of the blockchain. We don’t have a blockchain ourselves. And within that blockchain ecosystem, we recommend the usage of the energy web blockchain. And in that ecosystem, we have developed some open source toolkits and functionalities. For instance, the token that we use that represents the hourly content of carbon of the electricity produced is coming from a non fungible token. This is a tech innovation that we did open source that our [inaudible 00:05:30] did open source. It’s called ERC-1888 is the technical term. And it’s basically a non fungible token that can be applied for the energy sector, like an NFT for the energy sector.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Now let’s talk about LF Energy. You recently joined the foundation, talk about why.
Joan Collel: We want to spread the words and spread the knowledge related to more granular carbon accounting and how carbon accounting can be linked to renewable electricity purchase. We think that we have experience there. We have the technology to do that, but especially we also want other parties to help us learn with them. So we think this is about collaboration. If we want to accelerate the decarbonization of power grids, we all need to work together across industries. And we think that LF Energy ecosystem is the best fit for that.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: LF Energy is a relatively new organization. Actually, most of this technology that we talk about are very, very new and it’s growing membership is also growing. What role do you think you will be playing in this ecosystem of LF Energy?
Joan Collel: We think we can add value, especially in topics related to data access. We have invested a lot of time exploring how to better access metering data and CO2 data across different grids. And we can also bring value in the understanding of the blockchain technology and how it can support into the carbon accounting processes and certification mechanisms behind, behind this.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: That is also when we do talk about climate change decarbonization it also becomes a political topic as well. So when you do try to help companies, do you see that the challenges that are facing are more technical or they’re also more cultural and political as well? And if yes, how do you plan to handle them?
Joan Collel: I think there’s a big challenge that we all need to overcome related to standardization. Most companies still do not have a standard way to report on carbon emissions. There are no specific rules that go into details. There is a GHG, a greenhouse gas protocol that establishes certain guidelines, but it’s still quite loose. So I think that once in the coming years, regulation becomes more strict and standards kick in, companies will have to be prepared with digitization to be able to report on an accurate and credible way on their carbon emissions. And I think that’s the big challenge that companies need to face and address today, how to be prepared with digital tools to be reporting on carbon emissions and be able to face carbon taxes or carbon crimes in the future.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: When we talk about decarbonization or cutting your one’s carbon footprint, there are multiple level at which things are happening. Of course, there are a lot of initiatives which are at individual level. When I say individual, I’m not talking about end users. You know, a lot of companies are pledging to cut down their carbon footprint. And then there are global movement, Paris Accord, a lot of political movements are also happening there. And then there is also a lot of awareness. What role do you think organizations like Linux Foundation Energy are playing in becoming a catalyst to help? It doesn’t matter whether you’re a public sector, private sector, or an individual company.
Joan Collel: I think LF Energy can help drive standards and common understandings on how to treat carbon emission accounting for the industries to have a common language to speak and to ensure transparency and credibility of reporting of emissions. That if, if it comes from a broader ecosystem of industry participants, it is much more robust than individual claims that are done company by company. So I think LF Energy can act as an ecosystem, kind of bringing the forces together of the industry into one single voice.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: You folks just joined the foundation. It’s also the beginning of the year. So we have a lot of clean slates here. If I ask you, what are the things that you are expecting in 2022, or what are the things since you just started working with the foundation, what plan do you see are there, which we should all get excited about?
Joan Collel: Yeah, absolutely. So I think in 2022, the adoption of renewable energy purchases by corporates will continue to increase, both with power purchase agreements, but also with other mechanisms. And I think this year is the first year in which the companies will start understanding that it’s not enough to just buy renewable energy of the year, but you also need to understand the carbon impact of that purchase. I think this is a tipping point. There are some companies like Google and Microsoft that are already starting to do that in previous years. And I think this year is the mainstream adoption of 24/7 carbon free energy.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Let’s just zoom out and just take a totally visionary perspective. And I’m pretty sure that’s why you started the company as well. Let’s just quickly talk about what are the benefits of when companies talk about 24/7 carbon free. All big companies, Microsoft, Google, no matter who you talk to, they have committed to reducing their carbon footprint by 10 years, five years, 20 years, whatever it is. Can you talk about the impact? Of course there are business benefits as well but the most of the time we talk about it for the greater good. So, so let’s talk about that aspect as well.
Joan Collel: 24/7 carbon free energy sourcing is really about putting transparency on your carbon emissions that come from your power sourcing. So in a way, companies do that, first of all, for the environmental impact and environmental leadership. It’s really the fastest way to decarbonize power grids, but there’s also some business benefits when it comes to customer acquisition and retention. Customers are asking more and more transparent information of the carbon content of products and services. So companies like Google, Microsoft, or R Mountain are already thinking of adding that kind of transparency to meet customers requests on CO2 data. There’s also an element on risk litigation. If you manage to buy renewable power in the same moment when it is produced, you are effectively managing a hedging against volatile wholesale market prices. So that can also have a positive impact in your profit and loss.
- Swapnil Bhartiya: Joan, thank you so much for taking time out today. And of course, talk about the company, share your vision and goals, and also why you joined Linux Foundation Energy and how you are kind of part of this bigger ecosystem now to change the world for good. So thanks for also sharing those vision insights as well. And I would love to have you back on the show because I’m pretty sure that we’ll be talking a lot about this topic in the time to come. Thank you.
Joan Collel: Thanks. The pleasure was mine.