Ensuring a high level of supply reliability for a low cost

In the coming years, a lot of work needs to be done to advance the energy transition. At the same time, the quality of our energy supply must remain high at the lowest possible cost to society; at a 99.99% availability rate, our power grid is among the most reliable in the world.

Related topics

This chapter is about our measures in the area of reliability of supply and customer convenience. The information relates to several topics the stakeholders feel are important. Furthermore, these activities contribute to achieving an SDG:

Related material issues

① Reliability of supply
④ Working together on innovative solutions
⑤ Data-driven network management
⑦ Satisfied customers
⑨ Company’s adaptability
⑩ Future-proof network
⑮ Access to affordable energy 

Contribution to SDG
Related stakeholder groups

Customers, shareholders and investors

Objectives and results reliability of supply

Customer convenience

Customer satisfaction measured by NES score above 50% (Consumers) and 40% (Business).
55 %
50% in 2018
33 %
38% in 2018

Electricity outage duration 1

22 minutes
21.9 minutes
30.6 minutes in 2018

Realisation of planned smart meter offering

585,000 minimum
644,000 in 2018

Cable numbers with >5 interruptions

17 maximum
17 in 2018
  • 1 The figure for electricity outage duration differs from the figure stated in the regulatory report, because interruptions in the high-voltage network (CBL assets) owned by Alliander are taken into consideration in the regulatory report.

Pressure on the power grid

The reliability of supply in our electricity grid was again very high in 2019. All the same, the acceleration of the energy transition, the growth of the economy, and the shortage of technicians have together put the reliability of the grid under pressure. Expansion, upgrades, and smart solutions have alleviated the shortage of transmission capacity in some locations, but these measures are not sufficient to meet the rising demand for energy. Since 2019, an increasing number of bottlenecks have been occurring in the power grid in the Netherlands, posing an obstacle to the energy transition and to the further economic development in the Netherlands. The electricity grid is busy with delivering power, but also with the feed-in of electricity. Expanding the grid is a process that will take many years, which is why we are also taking another approach with regard to the energy transition, i.e. applying smart solutions and innovations where possible. In some instances, laws and regulations need to be amended before we can apply innovations on a larger scale. 

Insufficient transmission capacity

Network operators are having to deal with a rapidly expanding work package. For example, the demand for the highest capacity connections, used for connecting large solar farms and data centres, has increased sevenfold in just a few years. A large solar farm makes a claim on the electricity grid comparable to a small city like Weesp, and a data centre draws about double that amount. To continue to meet demand, we are expanding the electricity grid in many locations. This is a long process, however, partly due to the lengthy permit procedures. We are working hard to upgrade and expand our electricity grid, and over the last year we exerted even more effort in this area. Despite these efforts, owing to the skills shortages combined with the growing economy, we are increasingly unable to implement connections or network upgrades as quickly as the customer wants or within the statutory 18-week term. More and more often, businesses that want to generate or buy more electricity in areas where there is insufficient network capacity will have to wait until we have upgraded the network there. 

In advance of the expansion of the power grid in these locations, we have investigated whether congestion management – the coordination of supply and demand for electricity in an area – is an option, which it is not in virtually all areas facing capacity constraints. As a result, ‘transmission restrictions’ are placed on businesses in these areas, with the effect that if they need more electricity or want to feed in more electricity than a given amount, they will generally have to wait until the grid has been expanded. This measure is needed to prevent power cables from being overloaded resulting in district-wide power outages.

Transmission capacity statement

Since 1 October 2019, after consultation between network operators and various stakeholders, the transmission capacity statement (transportindicatie) has been part of the application procedure for the Dutch subsidy scheme designed to promote the production of sustainable energy (SDE+). Without a positive statement, the application cannot be accepted. The intention is to prevent subsidies for renewable power generation going to areas where the electricity grid does not have sufficient transmission capacity for this, nor will have this within the next few years. Power producers can request the statement from their network operator prior to applying for the subsidy. A positive transmission capacity statement indicates that, at that moment, the grid has sufficient capacity to transmit the electricity generated by the project. During the autumn SDE+ subsidy round, we received 3,869 requests for a transmission capacity statement, mainly for connecting solar farms to the grid. We provided a positive statement for 86.9% of the requests, i.e. a total of 3,361.