In 2017 Alliander once again invested extra in the expansion and quality of the energy networks, despite a shortage of technicians. The reliability of the energy supply for customers remained as high as ever. In addition, the network operator delivered a solid financial performance with a higher revenue and profit after tax. This is evident from the annual report published today.
Ingrid Thijssen, CEO of Alliander: “Alliander performed well in 2017 in terms of safety and outage duration. And investments in our electricity and gas networks also increased further, despite the shortage of technicians in the Netherlands. Economic growth and the rapid energy transition are adding to our workload. The Netherlands must speed up its transition to renewable energy if it wants to achieve the Paris climate objectives. We are very keen to contribute in this regard. Yet, in order to ensure a good transition, we need to know what must be done where and when as soon as possible. It would greatly please me if the new Climate Agreement included a stipulation that required municipalities to make concrete long-term plans in the short term.”
Revenue, profit and investments
Alliander's revenue increased by € 113 million to € 1,697 million in 2017 (2016: € 1,584 million). This includes a one-off effect from the transfer of sufferance tax costs from previous years. Profit after tax excluding incidental items rose to € 206 million (2016: € 132 million). Investments in the networks continue to grow. In 2017 a total of € 573 million was invested in energy networks and smart meters, versus € 555 million in 2016. Maintenance and interruption costs remained virtually unchanged at € 243 million (2016: € 240 million).
Lower outage duration at customers
The average time that our customers were without electricity declined in 2017 to 21.0 minutes (2016: 23.3 minutes). One high-profile interruption was caused by a Ministry of Defence helicopter hitting a high-voltage line at Culemborg on 13 November. This left 24,000 households and businesses without electricity for several hours. If it were not for this calamity, the average outage duration at Alliander would have been lower at 18.3 minutes.
Rising operational pressure
The reviving economy and rapid energy transition have led to an increased workload for Alliander. The shortage of technicians in the labour market is proving to be a real impediment to our ability to carry out our workload. This is why are involving our customers and the municipalities in the scheduling and implementation of our activities. What is more, Alliander is actively seeking extra technicians. In 2017, 260 new employees were hired. We will continue our efforts to recruit new technicians and aim to fill a further 300 technical vacancies in 2018.
Alliander's new role in the changing energy supply
The energy transition is leading to an increase in solar panels, heat pumps, electric transport and wind turbines. The number of customers generating and feeding in renewable energy in Alliander's service area grew further in 2017 to 190,000 (2016: 144,000). These customers can jointly produce renewable energy for two million households. Alliander already has approximately 300 applications for connections to large-scale solar fields for 2018.
The changing energy landscape is having a major impact on the electricity network, which was not designed to cope with these new developments and now requires substantial expansion. Alliander is adopting technical innovations and new market models in order to minimise network investments and the accompanying extra work. These include a pilot in 2017 with a neighbourhood battery in Rijsenhout and, more recently, the organization of a flexibility market in Nijmegen to prevent the need to lay an extra cable in the coming years.