S teven Vanholme, a Belgian expat in Helsinki, wanted to pay his electricity bills only for clean green energy. So he started a hefty European network of green label for electricity.

1. What is EKOenergy in brief?

EKOenergy is the European ecolabel for electricity. Electricity sold with the EKOenergy label fulfills strict environmental criteria and funds new renewable energy projects.
The label is a not-for-profit initiative of the EKOenergy Network, a group of 37 environmental organisatons from 27 European countries.
Both the network and the label are new. We started in 2013.

2. How did you come with the idea?

Electricity consumers all over Europe are confronted with the same challenges. How to switch electricity contract? How to compare different offers? Whom to trust on this complex and intransparent market. An ecolabel can help to mobilise millions of electricity to make use of their right to choose. And to make the right choice. As there is 1 european market, and common European rules, it makes sense to have 1 ecolabel for the whole of Europe. Cooperation helps us to do things more efficiently.

3. Do you think many companies are marching in? Aren’t they jeopardizing their profits?

We are sure they will. Renewable energy is the future, and more and more companies are aware of this. EKOenergy is a tool helping them to communicate their commitment to renewable energy.
Switching to renewable energy is the best way to remain profitable. Many studies show that renewable energy is cheaper already now. And carbon is very bad for a company’s image.

4. Could this work in Eastern Europe?

It will definitely work in Eastern Europe. More than half of the members of the EKOenergy Network are from Eastern-Europe, including 2 from Romania. Ecolabels have played a role in guiding Scandinavian and German consumers when the electricity markets over there liberalised at the end of the 1990s. We are convinced, our label can play a similar role in Eastern Europe. Labels are a tool to help consumers to find their way.
We made a comic about this topic, which can be downloaded from our website, www.ekoenergy.org.

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