The challenges in our work
The Netherlands currently faces major societal developments: the growing economy, digitalisation, the housing shortage, and the need for a more sustainable energy supply. These developments are leading to soaring demand for electricity. System studies show that the peak demand for electricity will have at least doubled by 2050. Unfortunately, the current energy network is not designed to cope with the developments that are now occurring rapidly. So, the entire energy infrastructure in the Netherlands will have to be upgraded in the coming years. An average of 1,600 medium-voltage stations must be added each year until 2035. Roughly 6,900 kilometres of cable will go into the ground in the coming years. In the period up to 2031, we also expect to have to build 56 large new substations and expand a further 100 stations. This huge workload comes at a time when we are facing an acute shortage of qualified technical personnel. At present, technicians can choose between 32 job vacancies. The network operators and their contractors alone need an additional 13,000 technicians in the next four years. We are also having to cope with material shortages.
Furthermore, spatial integration of the new stations and cables is a bottleneck in the process for implementing the energy transition. Because space is in short supply and permit procedures often take many years, plans for expansion need to be presented well in advance and close collaboration between government authorities and network operators is needed to match development plans in the region with work to implement infrastructure expansion projects.
Due to the above developments, bottlenecks in the electricity network occurred in more and more places in the Netherlands in 2021. The demand for electricity is increasing faster than the rate at which we can increase capacity in the power grid. So, our network is already operating at maximum capacity in some areas. More and more consumers, businesses and other organisations will have to wait for access to the power grid or additional power. The colours on the maps show the regions where transmission capacity for consumption (on the left), and for generation (on the right), was scarce at the end of 2021 (source: Liander.nl).
Red: no transmission capacity
Orange: congestion management trial ongoing
Yellow: limited transmission capacity
How we are addressing our challenges
To resolve the bottlenecks, Liander, Stedin, Enexis and TenneT will invest some €40 billion in the electricty network in the period up to 2030. In the period up to 2050, investments will total over €100 billion. In 2021, Alliander invested €1,014 million, mostly in extending and strengthening the power grid. Our ambition is to have eliminated all our backlogs by 2025. That requires us to think bigger and deliver faster. We have to produce more, in the same time. So, we need to adopt a different approach. To bring the capacity of the energy networks in line with external demand, we enhanced our overall strategy for producing more work in 2021. The strategy breaks down as follows:
Preventing work: we focus on the further development of an efficient energy system.
Making better use of networks: we apply smart grid management to make better use of existing networks
Executing more work: we focus on introducing solutions aimed at further improving productivity and increasing capacity in order to permanently increase our production levels.