‘We want to enable a fully sustainable electricity grid’: A Q&A with Dexter Energy CEO Luuk Veeken
Tell us about yourself
While I was studying chemistry and energy science, I became really interested in the energy transition towards a fully renewable system and how we could manage energy flows that are determined by the weather. I went on to work at a venture capital firm that specialises in energy investments across Europe and there I also developed a fascination for machine learning and AI and began to see how that technology could enable this transition. I started Dexter Energy to bridge that gap.
What was the catalyst for founding Dexter Energy?
The short term optimisation of wind and solar power always depends on forecasts. As we know from our weather apps, forecasts change all the time and they continuously need updates. That is where AI can really help. I started Dexter Energy seven years ago to create the technology that continuously produces the best forecasts to enable energy companies to plan and balance their power, since supply and demand needs to be equal at all times. At the time, the costs for renewables were coming down very quickly and it still hasn’t stopped — I knew that renewables would be scaled up around the world and we could be a key player in the adoption of new technologies. The company is now 40 people and we’re growing really fast. We have around 30 energy companies as customers and we recently scaled to countries outside of the Netherlands, including Belgium, Germany and Romania.
What is the main issue in the energy market that you wanted to solve with Dexter?
In a fully renewable grid, energy companies always need to be able to match supply and demand. With wind and solar energy, supply depends on weather forecasts and when those forecasts are inaccurate, it creates a costly imbalance in the system and a reliance on fossil fuels to make up the shortfall. As the demand for renewables increases, in order to reduce climate change, these imbalances become more costly, and so Dexter Energy was founded to provide accurate forecasting that not only reduces costs but also curtails the reliance on fossil fuels.
What is the company’s mission?
Our company’s mission is to enable a fully sustainable electricity grid, with 100% renewable energy meeting all demands. For that to happen, you need a smart and interconnected grid with a lot of battery storage. We want to help energy companies by providing them with the necessary technology to accelerate this transition as fast as they can.
How is the role of the business changing seven years on from its founding?
We provide the outcomes of our AI technology, such as wind generation forecasts or grid optimisation services, to energy companies and they utilise this information in their operations. As we grow Dexter, we understand that larger energy companies want access to the technology we build, as well as the data, so we’re transitioning our business towards building the cockpit for the modern energy trader, where they can interact with our technology more directly and themselves deploy models to create flexible optimisation strategies. That’s how we see our role changing as this market becomes more mature.
What else needs to be done to help with the energy transition?
When you don’t have a good forecast, you create imbalances in supply and demand. We use our technology to reduce these imbalances and create less dependency on fossil fired power generation. The other steps that are really necessary for moving towards a fully renewable grid in Europe is that there needs to be more interconnectivity between countries. With more cables connecting the world, if you have a place with a lot of sun and prices are cheap, you can easily export it to other countries who don’t have that weather. The second thing we need is more harmonisation in the battery markets. We need to build a scalable solution for optimising batteries across Europe because it’s currently a different set of rules for each country.
What’s a milestone you want to reach in 2024?
The milestone we want to reach in 2024 is to have a market share of at least 20% in five key markets in Europe. We also want to save the equivalent of around 1% of the total carbon dioxide emissions in the Netherlands by reducing these imbalances for our customers.
How has ETF Partners’ support helped shape the business?
I really like the contact we have with Remy de Tonnac at ETF Partners and the entire company’s entrepreneurial mindset. Remy really understands the other side of the table because he was an entrepreneur himself — he knows the ins and outs of growing a company and also the challenges involved. His coaching has been incredibly valuable so far and I love his creativity. There are already ideas he has brought that we are going to discuss and I’m excited to see the strategic directions he can take our company in.