Vrijopnaam Changes the Dutch Energy Market with Aquila’s Smart Software
Vrijopnaam, an independent Dutch energy broker, wants to ensure that sustainable energy is within reach for everyone in The Netherlands, with the goal to enable each citizen to contribute to environmental preservation and energy savings without the need to put solar panels on their rooftops. This solution will enable customers to consume green energy by buying solar panels from Vrijopnaam, who have built solar parks at several locations in the Netherlands.
Complicating the project, Vrijopnaam needed a full-lifecycle solution, enabling their sales process, customer and contract administration, and financial settlement. In addition, they had to be able to handle fully automated information processing with EDSN (Energy Data Services Netherlands) in order to communicate the value of the solar parks for the benefit of the customer.
While off-the-shelf software solutions could be modified to serve Vrijopnaam’s use case, they proved to be too expensive and insufficiently customizable for their full-lifecycle needs, encouraging a custom approach.
Using Agile for Rapid Experimentation
Due to the unique and innovative nature of the proposed application, and Vrijopnaam’s business model, requirements were loosely defined and in a constant state of change. More than just an undefined solution, Vrijopnaam needed to quickly enter the market with their proposition to test, learn, and iterate, partnering with Aquila to build their solution on the Mendix Platform, exploiting both Low Code’s time-to-value benefits and the development expertise of an implementation partner.
Working with business domain experts from Vrijopnaam, Aquila was able to build a maintenance app in just six months. The application was built with only one developer and is now used by more than 2,000 customers in the Netherlands. Each month, Vrijopnaam and Aquila iterate and continue to develop the app, improving the entire process (from buying to maintenance to communication to finance) for their customers.
To participate in the green energy initiative, users can sign up for the application via Vrijopnaam’s website. From that moment on, the application will take on a large part of the tasks. The customer data is consumed by the application and through a certified interface with EDSN, customer data is verified and recorded, all in real time.
After logging in, the application sends a welcome email and launches the customer onboarding workflow, automating the contract initiation and keeping track of what action is to be performed when. The financial calculation of advances and final settlement is automated in the application and is processed and collected by an integration with Exact Account System, Vrijopnaam’s accounting software.
The energy start-up also built a mobile application to enable customers to see the yield of the solar panels they purchase. It is a completely automated process that reads the yield every hour and sends the data to the mobile application for the customer to check. This customer experience furthers the goal of enabling the customer to generate and monitor their own energy. By buying solar panels from Vrijopnaam, customers pay a tribute to a sustainable world. They are able to generate their own electricity and follow the energy production of their own panels on an hourly basis.
With this unique solution, built by Aquila, customers who are interested in clean energy sources are connected with the companies that supply clean energy, enabling Dutch citizens to subscribe to clean energy without the extra expense of installing solar panels on their rooftops. Vrijopnaam has disrupted the Dutch energy market by allowing customers to take sustainable energy into their own hands.