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This article was published on March 25, 2021

Watch this solar expert explain why naked rooftops should be a thing of the past

Anouk Vleugels
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Anouk Vleugels

Publisher

As Publisher, Anouk is responsible for TNW's overall media strategy. If she ever quits her current job, it will be to do more screenwriting As Publisher, Anouk is responsible for TNW's overall media strategy. If she ever quits her current job, it will be to do more screenwriting (and likely be poor).

In this episode of our video series Unwind With Boris, in which TNW CEO Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten talks shop with Dutch entrepreneurs and innovators, Sungevity co-founder and chief mission officer Roebyem Anders shares her vision for a sustainable future.

It’s not often you find a founder so smitten with their own product as Roebyem Anders is with solar panels. Not only did she dedicate her career to getting them on every single rooftop; she also owns a solar panel-covered dress.

Anders says she “fell in love” with the technology during a business trip in Mexico. “I was there for one of my first solar energy projects. During my trip, there was a large-scale power outage. Within minutes, most buildings switched on their emergency generators, creating this big, disgusting brown cloud over the city. That’s when it hit me: This country has so much space, and so much sun, why are we allowing this to happen?”

Solar panels stuck with her. Anders co-founded solar panel company Zonline in 2014, which later became Sungevity. The company currently employs about 220 people. 

After a brief stint as CEO (“I must have been the worst CEO in the world”) Anders decided her qualities were better served by becoming chief mission officer, spreading the solar gospel.

And things are going well, she says. In the Netherlands, 12.5% of households have solar panels on their roof. That might not sound like much, but Anders believes the tipping point — the moment when solar panels become a mainstream technology — will be at 25%. It’s certainly an optimistic perspective, but Anders is a mostly optimistic person.

“I’ve been occupied with climate change for 25 years now, so I know how grim the outlook is. But I do believe we can still turn this around. Most of us finally seem to grasp the seriousness of our situation, so now it’s time to act on it.”

Watch the fourth episode of Unwind With Boris (top of the article) in which Roebyem Anders shares her vision for the future (hint: solar panels, everywhere), how we can book guilt-free flights again, and why she wasn’t cut out to be CEO.

Watch earlier episodes:

Unwind with Boris: Episode one — featuring TNW’s CEO Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and TNW’s Head of Media Anouk Vleugels.

Unwind with Boris: Episode two — featuring TNW’s CEO Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Philips’ Chief Innovation Officer Jeroen Tas.

Unwind with Boris: Episode three —  featuring TNW’s CEO Boris Veldhuijzen van Zanten and Juuve CEO Niki Sie.

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