What'sUP! - Out of the box energy

Rotterdam faces major social, economic and ecological challenges. They require a long-term strategy with innovative solutions. We work on this together with front runners in business. In the "What'sUP!"-series we focus on a creative pioneer who or a progressive company that finds solutions to the challenges of the 21st century. This week Skoon.

Skoon Energy wants to replace diesel generators with container batteries: Skoon Boxes. This smart stacking of batteries was originally their main product, until logistics and charging giga batteries turned out to be the biggest challenge. They are now focusing their efforts on the Skoon Cloud, the platform where supply and demand of mobile energy come together. As soon as they discover a new market, they build a Skoon Box to meet that need.

Peter Paul van Voorst tot Voorst, co-founder of Skoon: “We, Daan Geldermans and I, studied Maritime Technology in Delft, and that is where we came up with the idea of making the shipping industry cleaner.  Therefore, we already knew what we wanted to call ourselves: Schoon (Dutch for “clean”). However, since shipping is an international industry, it makes much more sense if your name can be pronounced by non-Dutch people. This is how the name Skoon came about. To accomplish this cleaning from a technical standpoint, we opted for battery-powered energy. That is a concept that is easy to understand, making it easier to gain acceptance. Hydrogen for instance requires a more detailed explanation. We are researching that option as well, along with the option of using ammonia as an energy carrier, but we chose not to start out with that option.”

From diesel power to battery power

“The question we had to answer was, how do you power ships without sacrificing power or distance. The answer is: with an electric engine and a battery. Ships that use diesel-electric propulsion are already equipped with electric engines (they obtain their power from a diesel generator or network).  In this case, the only thing you have to do is connect a cable to the battery. We came up with the Skoon Box as the battery, which is a 20 ft standard container filled with batteries that we can replace as a whole. We do this for inland waterway shipping, but we are also in discussions with coastal vessel operators and ships that sail to offshore facilities, such as wind farms. There will be about 20 to 30 mobile batteries in circulation around the end of this year.”

Logistics more complex than technology

“Some wind farms are built in such a way that you can consume power from them on the spot. Ships would be able to charge their containers there. This option is being considered more and more because wind turbines sometimes produce surplus energy. They can offload that energy in our containers. Even though we mainly concentrated on the Skoon Box technology before we started our company, we discovered that logistics and charging posed a much bigger challenge. What is the best place to charge an empty Skoon Box as quickly as possible? That question turned out to be too complex to leave it up to the users. Therefore, we decided to make that our core business: we now bring supply and demand together with the Skoon Cloud.”

Replacement for diesel generators at construction sites and events

“We started exploring areas where power was sourced from diesel generators, such as at construction sites and events. There is often a small mains power supply available at construction sites, but it is not powerful enough to supply energy for a crane. This is why a heavy diesel generator is also set up on site to meet peak demand, but it produces too much energy much of the time.  Then we say: set up our Skoon Box there instead of a generator, plug in the power cord and source that peak power output for the crane from our box. You can reserve the boxes with us, and we will automatically set them up at the desired location. We can’t do so yet with zero emissions, even though some of our transporters have trucks powered by electricity; however, we now have a working business case that we can further improve upon.”