Given the trends and developments, we foresee the emergence of a fundamentally different energy system: the developments outlined pose serious challenges that must be resolved to continue guaranteeing the reliability, affordability and accessibility of our energy supply. Alliander is responding to these challenges with a clear strategy.
Alliander facilitates the energy transition
When our customers start using more energy at specific times of day in a particular city, district or street, our traditional response is to upgrade our network. For instance, by laying thicker cables or installing an additional transformer. However, our energy system is set to undergo much more rapid and radical change in the coming decades. Straightforward upgrades are no longer sufficient to keep pace with these revolutionary developments. Moreover, network upgrades are time-consuming and expensive. And fail to address the need to safeguard the quality and accessibility of the new energy networks. That is why Alliander is opting for alternative ways of dealing with the changes in the energy system.
Alliander supports customers in making choices
Customers are gaining more and more influence over the energy system. Incentives can encourage them to make choices that not only work out well for them, but also for our energy system as a whole. More specifically, we need to make it attractive for customers to buy energy in times of abundance, sell energy in times of scarcity and refrain from using the energy network at peak times.
To achieve this, we need to apply variable energy pricing (the scarcer energy is at a certain time of day, the higher the price) and flexible transmission tariffs (based on peak loads in the transmission networks) for all customers. That way, they can decide for every 15-minute or hourly time slot whether using, selling or storing energy is the best option for them. Clearly, this decision-making process must be automated in order to minimise the time customers need to spend managing their energy. Alliander is facilitating this process. In the coming years we will offer smart meters enabling billing per fifteen-minute or hourly time slot to all our customers. And we will also help customers to exchange energy among themselves.
Alliander is investing in alternative open infrastructures
The construction of alternative infrastructures may prevent the need for costlier investments in the existing network, for instance in a scenario where a local community wants to install heat pumps in every individual home. In this case, the demand for electricity at peak times will rise sharply (especially on cold days). The electricity network would require a substantial upgrade to meet this increased demand. It is vital to ascertain with all stakeholders whether this is the cheapest and most sustainable solution. An alternative infrastructure (such as a heating or biogas network) may be a better option. That is why Alliander is investing in the development of alternative energy networks.
It is crucial to ensure that this new infrastructure remains accessible (‘open’) to everyone under equal conditions. Universal access will make these networks more affordable, as the costs care shared among more users. Added to this, facilitating the market forms an important element of our corporate social responsibility.
Ongoing ICT innovation is rapidly giving rise to new digital opportunities for network operation. These new technologies allow us to quickly detect and even prevent faults, make more targeted investments in the networks, and offer customers the data they need to make sensible energy choices. In this way, we can often restrict costly network upgrades. Alliander has therefore opted to extensively digitise its networks, using state-of-the art innovations. By installing smart meters, sensors, remote-controllable switches and a telecom network, we can respond quickly and at acceptable costs to the far-reaching changes taking place in the energy system.
Excellent network management is the basis
The Dutch energy network is among the most reliable in the world and we aim to keep it that way. Thanks to efficient management and economies of scale, we can keep the existing networks affordable. We also want to continue increasing the level of comfort our customers experience when we are working for them. The trust of our customers is important, both to perform our traditional daily work and to realise our new network ambitions.
To continue guaranteeing a reliable, affordable and accessible energy supply, we seek to recognise and understand innovative trends in the world around us at an early stage. And we actively contribute to the development and large-scale application of open standards, for both new networks and solutions that help customers make good choices.