Frank Energie, a new Dutch energy supplier, wants to conquer Belgium after the Netherlands, with dynamic hourly prices to allow EV owners to charge at home when prices are at their lowest, for instance.
CEO Hans van der Woude does not hide his ambitions: After further growth in Belgium, Spain, and France, the start-up wants to become the European market leader in dynamic contracts before the end of 2025.
According to the providers, a dynamic electricity price fits the sustainable energy supply needed to meet climate targets, with lots of solar and wind energy. But suppose you allow your electricity consumption of appliances or machines and the charging of your electric car to coincide with the hours when attractive price tips apply. In that case, your energy bill will benefit, too.
A digital meter is a must
Besides ‘fixed’ and ‘variable’ (where the price is adjusted every month or three months), a third form of energy contract is also available: ‘dynamic’. However, you will need a digital meter for it. In Flanders, its rollout, which Europe mandates, has already started, and today, about 1,5 million households (or around 40%) already have a digital meter. Brussels and Wallonia are behind and still in a test phase.
In a dynamic contract, the hourly energy cost is determined based on prices on the power exchanges or the so-called spot market on which suppliers buy energy for the following day. This means that hourly electricity purchases are settled at the price of that hour.
These hourly prices are commonly known a day in advance. They are also communicated to the energy consumer in advance, allowing him to adjust his consumption based on this price information.
For instance, you can charge your car when prices are lower or attractive, such as in the late hours or around noon when solar energy production is high and everyone is in the office. You can reduce the energy cost on your bill by scheduling those large consumptions at the most advantageous hours, with or without a charging station or a home battery combined with solar panels.
Savings of 15%
Frank Energie, founded in 2020 by Dutch entrepreneur and ex-Eneco-employee Thomas Hulshof, promises average savings of 15% on energy costs and 100% transparency. For example, the app shows your consumption every hour of the day and the costs involved. All this can be done automatically via the smart charging service and the intelligent control device Homey.
Soon, the energy supplier will also introduce ‘smart charging’ for your home battery. With this, you can use solar panels and a home battery to “start your own lucrative energy shop with nice returns”.
In the app, for example, you can easily see what you produce each day and how much that benefits you. Your compensation for the kilowatt-hours delivered back to the grid is based on the same dynamic market prices. For those who do not yet have a digital meter, Frank Energie also offers a classic variable contract in Flanders.
Only green electricity
Unlike most Belgian energy suppliers, Frank Energie, which also supplies gas, works with monthly advances on the energy bill, which are adjusted each month based on the actual consumption of the past month. With most Belgian suppliers, you pay a fixed monthly advance, which is usually much higher than the actual consumption in summer, for example.
The company also supplies only green electricity from Belgium, with 50% from wind farms and 50% from solar energy. Frank Energie plans to conquer the market in Spain and France early next year after Flanders, with only 2,6% contracts with a dynamic price at the end of 2022.
Six suppliers with dynamic contracts are currently active in Flanders. Besides Frank Energie, these are market leaders Engie, Yuso, Eneco, Octa+, and Ebem. Via the price comparison V-Test of the Flemish energy regulator VREG, you can automatically compare prices based on your consumption.
Minister intervenes after price cap
In the Netherlands, where 90% of households already have a digital meter, Frank Energie has almost 100 000 customers. However, dynamic energy suppliers in the Netherlands cannot apply the cap on energy prices every hour. That way, they would continuously reap the benefits of price dips and never suffer from high peaks.
Resigned Climate and Energy Minister Rob Jetten ruled this would have “a disruptive effect on the market”. Therefore, when the price cap comes into effect, dynamic suppliers must weigh the average consumption of customers over a more extended period against the price cap. In this way, the final bill will be “closest to the announced maximum tariffs,” the minister said.