The energy transition in the Netherlands is a bottom-up process with top-down goals. Plans to make the energy supply more sustainable are being drawn up, whether rapidly or more slowly, in various sectors, such as sustainable generation integration, industry, mobility and the built environment. All those plans converge on the energy network. We see that these plans do not always take into account the efficiency of the energy system and their impact on that system. Moreover, the anticipated time required for the development of these projects is much shorter than the time required to expand grid capacity. As a result, the objectives are not feasible in some cases and the work package for network operators is increasing significantly. So looking for ways to avoid unnecessary extra or unforeseen work is crucially important.
Programming and priorities
Over the past year, network operators and government authorities have begun working more closely on implementation programmes, in which we jointly programme and prioritise the roll-out of sustainable energy and energy infrastructure, and manage spatial impacts. The energy system needs to be designed for maximum possible efficiency, to keep it affordable and the tasks involved workable. That is why we identify all energy developments over the longer term, then draw up an efficient design and schedule the execution. We specify the planned expansion and replacement investments in the networks in Liander's investment plans.
In addition, we investigate opportunities for efficient grid use with specific customer groups. For example, in a joint project with the Port of Amsterdam, we are assessing whether offering and building an additional flexibility and system integration is a workable solution for giving customers access to energy despite the lack of capacity in the power grid.
New energy carriers
As a network company, we build energy infrastructure that will last for decades. With that in mind, we are assessing the potential of new and sustainable energy carriers in the energy system of the future. With that knowledge, we will be able to make system choices earlier, such as accelerating the construction of infrastructure for new energy carriers like hydrogen and biogas, in order to avoid wasting resources on intermediate solutions for making industry more sustainable (such as e-boilers). We are conducting research into the safety implications for our employees and the (end) users of hydrogen at a number of sites, including The Green Village in Delft and Kiwa's Hydrogen Experience Centre (hydrogen demonstration and training facility) in Apeldoorn. We are also lobbying for the changes and additions to legislation and regulations that are required for hydrogen. In 2021, we started a hydrogen pilot project in Oosterwolde. This project is intended to clarify what the direct production of hydrogen at a wind or solar farm means in terms of reducing the load on the electricity grid, and affordability and regulations. In Lochem, Alliander and partners are preparing a project in which historic buildings will be supplied with hydrogen as a fuel for heating via the existing natural gas network. In 2021, we also signed a collaboration agreement with the Port of Amsterdam to develop a public hydrogen network.