Alliander: coordination needed for realisation of climate agreement

18 February 2020
Exponential growth in the number of EV charging stations, solar parks, wind turbines and heat pumps in 2019 has led to record investments by Alliander. With this, the implementation phase of the energy transition has shifted into a higher gear and requires full focus over the coming years. Besides expanding and reinforcing the electricity networks, Alliander has also applied smart solutions on a larger scale to start using existing networks even more efficiently. This has resulted in the network company posting solid financial results.

“In 2019, it became clear just how rapidly the energy transition is developing,” explains Ingrid Thijssen, Alliander’s CEO. “With demand growing sevenfold, realising new grid connections and sufficient electricity network capacity in time are no longer a given. In the Climate Agreement, the Netherlands has committed to 35 terawatt hours of all electricity generation in the country coming from renewable sources by 2030, as well as to weaning one and a half million homes off natural gas and installing 1.8 extra EV charging stations. In many places, this requires at least a doubling of the capacity of the electricity networks. That will put greater demands on our network. In Amsterdam alone, we need six to eight new electrical substations by 2030 to facilitate growth and sustainability, while permit processes can take years, physical space is scarce, and the Netherlands is grappling with a shortage of technicians. With all this in mind, shaping the implementation phase of the energy transition should now be the top priority. Besides training more technicians in the Netherlands and planning the work on the energy infrastructure, what is needed is coordination.”

Safety and supply reliability

In 2019, Alliander laid 38% more cables, and connected 48% more solar panels and 39% more EV charging stations, while also installing nearly 1 million smart meters. Amid this sharp increase in our operations, ensuring safe work practices for our employees, contractors and customers has always come first. The number of lost-time accidents increased slightly compared to 2018. There were no serious incidents. With an availability rate of 99.997%, the energy networks’ supply reliability remained high, as in other years.

Revenue, profit and investments

In 2019, Alliander’s investments reached a record total of €834 million, compared to €731 million in 2018, largely on the back of a sharp rise in investments in the electricity networks. Alliander’s revenue for 2019 came in at €1,930 million (2018: €1,920 million). Profit after tax, including incidental items, came in at €253 million (2018: €334 million). Maintenance costs totalled €289 million (2018: €283 million).

Employment growth

Growing demand for connections is creating a lot of jobs. In 2019, 262 specialist technicians joined the network company, with approximately 400 more vacancies to fill in 2020. To fill these vacancies, Alliander is looking not only at students from the usual programmes, but also turning its recruitment focus to secondary school graduates, asylum status holders and people who would be willing to retrain. Aside from that, the amount of work for contractors has also increased enormously. In 2019, several innovative long-term contracts were signed with contractors, enabling them to invest in hiring and training new technicians.

More efficient use of the existing network

Besides network expansion, Alliander is also actively working on smart solutions to be able to make more efficient use of the existing network and reduce workload and costs. In 2019, Alliander has experimented with the use of spare electricity network capacity and remote disconnection of solar parks to prevent overloading of the grid. Alliander also has several unique hydrogen pilots lined up. Hydrogen is potentially a good alternative resource to transport in existing natural gas pipelines. In addition, any excess power generated from renewable sources can be converted into hydrogen, which relieves the burden on the electricity grid.