Our vision at Schneider Electric is to make it easier for commercial and industrial organizations to adopt renewables while meeting business goals and aligning carbon reduction initiatives with the ambitions of the Paris Agreement. We’ve helped countless companies advance their sustainability commitments through the procurement of renewable electricity. In fact, in partnership with our corporate clients, we’ve advised on the execution of more than 10,000 MW of renewable energy power purchase agreements (PPAs).
In this dynamic market and in the pursuit of our vision to enable all companies access to renewable electricity, the Schneider Electric team has been rapidly growing. To help you get to know us a little bit better, we sat down to have a chat with the most recent addition to our European cleantech team:
Robbert Slooten, Senior Consultant, Renewable Energy & Carbon Advisory
Renewable PPAs are effective but complex transactions. Robbert and his team make it easier for corporate renewable energy buyers in Europe to evaluate PPA opportunities and identify and negotiate the best deals in the market.
Q: How did you become an advocate for environmental stewardship?
I’ve always had a general interest in sustainability, but in my previous role as Global Sustainability Program Manager at Signify (formerly Philipps Lighting), this interest grew and transformed into my career purpose. That role was a big accomplishment for me in moving into the sustainability space, helping a large multinational company advance its carbon reduction ambitions. During my time there, I helped the company set and get its science-based targets approved and was involved in the teams that helped Signify sign three PPAs. The first one was back in 2014 in the U.S. when the market was still immature. In 2017, I was the internal champion leading the company to complete the first publicly announced virtual power purchase agreement in Poland. And most recently I was part of the team aligning the 4 consortium partners in the first joint pan-European VPPA.
Sustainability has taken over from a personal standpoint as well. Acting in an environmentally friendly way is part of my daily practice as well as my professional career. I guess you could say that the values of sustainability have permeated almost every aspect of my life.
Q: Can you explain what your new role entails?
In the simplest of terms, I help Schneider Electric’s clients to assess and execute PPAs. As Senior Consultant of Renewable Energy and Carbon Advisory, I play an important role during the delivery of the PPA – think of me and my peers as the linking pin between the client and Schneider’s delivery team. Once a company has engaged Schneider in a Cleantech Advisory Agreement, our consultancy team helps refine and clarify the client’s ambition and strategy. We help our customers define a roadmap of how they will achieve their goals and investigate how a PPA may fit within the context of their other climate targets.
Once the direction is clear, we launch an RFP and help our customers find the right project, with the right attributes, at the right price. We use our deep market expertise and industry relationships to liaise between project developers and the client team to select and negotiate a PPA that will help them achieve their renewable electricity goals. One often overlooked aspect of the process by first-time buyers is the internal education and approvals required to support a PPA. Engaging stakeholders throughout our client’s company – from energy management to finance to accounting, sometimes all the way up to the C-level – is our bread and butter and often where we spend most of our time.
Ultimately, our end game is always to help advance our clients’ renewable energy and sustainability ambitions.
Q: How has your background in corporate sustainability prepared you to make an impact for Schneider Electric’s clients?
Because I became a carbon and renewables expert from the corporate side, I know first-hand what’s in the mind of the client, what they are looking for, and the challenges they are likely facing. I’ve been in their position on the other side of a PPA procurement process from where I sit today, so I have a unique perspective on how to engage their team for the most efficient and successful experience.
While at Signify, similar to how many corporate sustainability managers find themselves today, I was tasked with achieving 100% renewable electricity in just 5 years’ time. I learned how to move quickly, developed expertise rapidly, and engaged the right consultants to pull all the levers at our disposal to execute on this ambitious goal. I think this experience has prepared me perfectly to guide companies toward solutions that are right for their situation and objectives.
Q: Why did you decide to transition from the corporate side to the consultant side in the sustainability space?
At the start of my career, I was always curious about consulting and my time at Signify solidified sustainability as my path forward. While working with Schneider as a customer, my collaboration with their consultants and advisors kept me interested in the idea of consulting. From a client-perspective, I really enjoyed working with Schneider and was inspired by the proficiency and care the team put into helping Signify achieve its goals. When the opportunity presented itself, I saw taking this role at Schneider as a perfect moment to use my acquired skills and passion to help other companies advance their sustainability and renewable energy programs, while also advancing my own career goals.
Something about me that might help you understand why consulting was so appealing is that I like to share my knowledge. Sometimes my wife even calls me out for trying to educate others outside of work – but all joking aside, it’s really something that brings me joy. Sharing my expertise in this niche area of carbon accounting and renewable energy is a chance to create value for many more companies. By becoming a consultant, I can multiply my impact by a factor of 10 to help clients along their own decarbonization journey.
Q: In what ways do you see the European renewable energy landscape transforming in the next 5 years and how do you hope to contribute to it?
Europe recently launched the Fit for 55% and 2030 Green Deal goals, signaling huge amounts of ambition within the EU to increase the generation of renewable electricity. It’s an exciting time to be in the industry and a wonderful opportunity to help corporates play an active role in the renewable energy transition. As end users, they have the buying power to drive the markets toward more renewable and clean electricity, away from polluting coal and gas. As a result of these trends, we expect the European PPA market to continue to accelerate. However, it would be a mistake for buyers to assume that good PPA opportunities will be around forever – we are already seeing that the best deals in the market are snatched up by the early movers in the C&I space.
Q: What superpower do you bring to this team?
If I had to choose a superpower, I think it would be my skill of bringing people together to connect on a common cause and getting them into action mode. With renewable PPAs, there is such a wide array of internal stakeholders and market complexities that the sustainability or energy champion can be paralyzed by decisions. By breaking down the process into manageable steps, knowing when to engage the right people at the client company, and having been in their shoes, I believe I am uniquely equipped to support Schneider’s clients in getting a PPA across the line.
This skill and my experience at Signify, combined with being well connected with Schneider’s many global experts in market intelligence and developer relationships, gives me the means to find the best PPA possible to meet our clients’ goals.