The heat pump technicians Bas and Marijn Flipse – De Groene Amsterdammer

A combination of central heating system with heat pump, 19 May 2022.

Kees van de Veen / ANP

On the day that the world’s largest gas exporter is invading Ukraine, Bas Flipse (34) is standing with his brother Marijn (29) in a TV studio. Through the cameras, they speak to a closed circle of investors. Money Meets Ideas is the name of the event. The idea they put up is simple and, certainly for a start-up, not very innovative: a hybrid heat pump.

Still, the brothers believe that their company Quatt can turn the whole market upside down. Not so much because of their smart software, which must ensure that the pump performs optimally, but primarily because, unlike many traditional players in the heating industry, they dare to invest fully in one technology. The reputable brands do supply heat pumps, but do not want to say goodbye to the central heating boiler just yet, because there is a chance that it may hang on if the hydrogen economy picks up speed. Bas and Marijn consider that chance insignificant. Quatt aims to have installed one million heat pumps by 2030.

Marijn is the duo’s technician. As a mechanical engineering student, he assembled an electric scooter and started a company, which was acquired by an Indian competitor to Uber, which already has thousands of e-scooters on the way in that country. Bas studied economics, started a franchise business for a tutor company, but did not think education was the sector he would have ‘influence’ in. Good at sustainable energy; one of the biggest challenges of our time, Bas understood – and the solution will come from technology rather than behavior change. And for heating houses, the heat pump is the technology of the future. That’s their pitch at Money Meets Ideas.

When the recordings are finished, Bas opens his laptop and sees the tragic news from Ukraine on a live blog. He also sees something else. An increase in orders at Quatt. The brothers look at each other. Is it because of the war? They can think of no other explanation; gas prices have been high for several weeks and their promotional campaign has not yet begun. Over the next few days, orders continue to flow in and sales skyrocket as the debate over our reliance on Russian gas burns Putin’s coffin.

In 2020, the heat pump was still a bit ridiculous

For the brothers, it’s a game changer. The original plan was to start slowly. If they would have installed a hundred heat pumps before the end of the year, that would be a lot. Meanwhile, they have more than 2400 pre-orders inside, investors register, they employ twelve people, and Quatt has moved to the eighth floor of a modern business tower in Amsterdam-West, which is mainly filled with tech companies.

Ukraine’s turning point

Since the first Russian cruise missiles landed on Kiev on February 24, 2022, the attack on Ukraine has been called a historic turning point. But what has changed then? Based on ten major and minor protagonists (plus a former General playing Risk), The green Amsterdammer balance for the first time.

One prototype stands in the bare room, next to a desk strewn with screwdrivers, cables and circuit boards. In the other workplaces, programmers stare intently at their screens.

Something has changed in public opinion, Bas and Marijn note. Not so long ago, the heat pump was a bit ridiculed. At the end of 2020, Arjen Lubach made a post about the Dutch’s goal of becoming gas-free. Do not get too complicated with those expensive and clumsy heat pumps that run on gas-fired electricity and hurry with insulation, was the tenor.

Many consumers did not yet dare to make the investment, and there was also a lack of clear direction from politicians.

Until last month. Then the cabinet announced that the central heating boiler has had its day and that the hybrid heat pump will be ‘the new standard’ from 2026. You see, the brothers said to each other – it’s sad that it takes a war to push the energy transition, but the stone is pushed out over the tray and will only roll faster from now on.

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