Meet the Innovator, a series of interviews with founders from the energy and maritime industries. In this edition, we talk with Willem van der Merwe, co-founder of Amphibious Energy. They develop EnergyPods, a sustainable alternative for conventional power generators. As the offshore wind industry sets its ambitions on an astounding 70GW capacity, ensuring the turbines are powered sustainably throughout the construction phase is essential if we truly want to create sustainable energy sources.
Willem’s passion for sustainable energy comes from his desire to make his children proud and show them that he is trying to change the carbon-intensive habits of the offshore industry. Although he hadn’t always planned on starting his own company, he found himself constantly coming up with solutions to problems he noticed in his career. In 2017, he co-founded Amphibious Energy and joined the community of the Buccaneer in 2021.
“We want to become the go-to company for sustainable remote off-grid power challenges. That is why we invented the EnergyPod, a power generator which provides sustainable energy.”Willem van der Merwe, Amphibious Energy
“The demand for sustainable energy rose, offshore wind developed rapidly, and the search for sustainable solutions got bigger and bigger,” Willem says. “We have noticed that offshore and off-grid locations didn’t yet have sustainable solutions to provide the necessary energy. Most of the time, diesel gensets are used to provide the necessary power. This produces significant amounts of CO2 during operation, generates noise and vibration hat could disruptive to marine wildlife and has a risk of spills or leaks. This seemed like something that needed to be improved.” Thus, the EnergyPod was born.
The EnergyPod is a highly versatile energy solution that can be adapted to meet the specific needs of clients and can be utilized in any environmental condition and remote off-grid location. With a unique combination of Amphibious Energy’s patented Nautilus Offshore Wind Turbine, vertical orientated solar photovoltaic panels, and battery storage integrated with the container, it directly competes with the low-end conventional transportable power generators.
“We want to become the go-to company for sustainable remote off-grid power challenges,” Willem says. “That is why we invented the EnergyPod, a power generator which provides sustainable energy.”
With the development of offshore wind, new challenges rise. One of these challenges is how offshore wind farms can negatively impact the biodiversity in- and around the North Sea. With this in mind, Amphibious Energy collaborated with CORROSION and developed the ICCP-Pod. This EnergyPod protects offshore wind structures against rust and degradation. This makes that the structure is protected against corrosion from the beginning, thereby minimizing the potential for environmental contamination.
Willem is proud of the team, their big ‘little’ EnergyPod, and the journey they have had so far. However we know that the road of an entrepreneur isn’t only about success. “When we founded Amphibious Energy, I had the expectation that we would accelerate change in the offshore industry’s carbon intensive habits. Fast forward to today, and I would have expected that we were further down the road. I really believe that the offshore industry wants to be more sustainable, but I also notice that new innovations in this conservative industry are challenging to push.”
“In the end, accelerating the growth of your company is hard and you cannot do it by yourself. You need to partner up with companies that can push your innovation. Especially in the offshore industry.”Willem van der Merwe, Amphibious Energy
Willem thinks the progress to include sustainable innovations is lacking pace, and that this is mostly due to red-tape clearances. “It is sad to see, because it causes two things: the unnecessary delay in the deployment of new innovations and it can also cause the failure of start-up companies, which might have had the potential to accelerate the transition.”
Willem advises future entrepreneurs to give themselves extra time to succeed in the offshore market. “Give yourself some extra time to succeed… no, not only some extra time, quadruple it. Maybe then you might have a realistic view on the timeline for success of your innovation.”
Finally, Willem recommends not choosing a standard accelerator program if you are working on hardware tech in this industry. “I choose Buccaneer Delft because of their large network in energy & maritime sector. In the end, accelerating the growth of your company is hard and you cannot do it by yourself. You need to partner up with companies that can push your innovation. Especially in the offshore industry.” Amphibious Energy has already formed partnerships with key market leaders, like CORROSION and BilfingerUK in the offshore wind and Oil & Gas industries, and Willem expects to make some big announcements in these markets before the end of the year.
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