Excellent network management
Supply reliability of the electricity grid
In 2019, our customers were without electricity for an average of 21.9 minutes, a big improvement over last year (2018: 30.6 minutes), which can mainly be attributed to the lack of major outages in 2019 (2018: 4). Besides this, there were fewer outages in the summer period than last year. This was thanks, in part, to our use of new digital tools that enable us to better monitor components that are sensitive to sustained periods of heat: we can localise imminent disruptions faster and guide our service technicians more effectively. Components are replaced preventively where necessary. It is worth noting that 21% of the power disruptions were caused by excavation works being carried out by outside parties.
The number of unique cable numbers with more than five interruptions per year was 17, the same as the target (maximum 17) and just as high as in 2018 (17), despite the sharper focus on repeat disruptions and smart technical adjustments in the network. An example of this is REZAP Fault Master, a device that can pinpoint the fault location at the next (dormant) fault.
Outage duration of power grid and causes
The Dutch average for 2019 is not yet known.
Supply reliability of the gas grid
Gas outages are relatively uncommon. The main cause of fluctuations in the gas outage duration are random outages caused by a third party and which leave customers without gas for a long time. In November, 63 homes in the village of Doorwerth were without gas for between a day and a day and a half. This was the result of water from a burst water main entering a damaged gas main, which then had to be cleaned (along with other local gas lines) and repaired before it could be brought back into use.
Outage duration of gas grid and causes
The Dutch average for 2019 is not yet known.
In 2019, we spent €1,044 million on the maintenance, replacement and construction of our energy infrastructure (2018: €954 million).
Replacement of grey cast-iron and asbestos cement mains
Since 2009, a large-scale replacement programme for the replacement of grey cast-iron and asbestos cement mains has been under way. The programme is scheduled to be finished in 2040. In 2019, we met with representatives of ten municipalities (in which 70% of the mains concerned are buried) to discuss accelerating the programme, striving for completion by 2032. This move was prompted by the official recommendations of the Dutch State Supervision of Mines.
Our results by region
The Province of Gelderland covers a large, highly diverse area. Various major housing developments were under construction last year, and we saw an increasing demand for capacity in business parks and the commercial greenhouse sector. We also saw an increase in initiatives related to the production of renewable energy. These developments have had a huge impact on the grid. Based on dozens of talks with growers, we made an analysis of energy scenarios in the Bommelerwaard region, and worked on connecting renewable energy initiatives around the Deil interchange to the grid. For the solar initiatives in the Achterhoek region, we built a new substation in Laarberg, and we worked on upgrading the Borculo substation. In 2019, we ran a pilot in Wageningen with the first prefab substation. Despite the use of innovative approaches like the flex-market and the flexnet in Nijmegen-Noord, we still saw the demand for capacity exceeding the available capacity in a number of locations.
In Friesland, the rapid growth of solar energy in particular means that the electricity networks are having to handle an increasingly heavier load. In 2019, a number of solar farms were connected to the grid, including close to Oosterwolde. We have also decided to start a pilot installation at a solar farm in Oosterwolde that will convert renewable energy from the solar farm into green hydrogen. These types of pilots contribute to the realisation of alternative solutions that enable the transport of renewable electricity from areas where the grid is under pressure.
The province of Noord-Holland has a major, accelerated new-build challenge: data centres want to establish themselves there, and a reliable power supply is essential for commercial greenhouse operators. The demand for electricity is ever increasing, while the grid does not have the capacity to meet this demand. To address this, we worked with TenneT on expanding the electricity grid, and in 2019 we completed the De Weel and Middenmeer substations. With regard to the heating transition, in Purmerend the first homes in the ‘test bed’ of the Ministry of the Interior and Kingdom Relations were made natural gas-free, and the first open district heating network in the Netherlands was launched in Zaanstad. In Haarlemmermeer we expanded the electricity grid to facilitate the connection of data centres. The installation of the second 50kV connection between the Haarlemmermeer electrical substation and Rozenburg is under way. Since 2015, together with TenneT we have been searching for a location in the region for a new Haarlemmermeer substation, as of yet without success, unfortunately.
Liander and the City of Amsterdam collaborated in a thematic study on the energy transition in the city. As a result of the construction of new homes and data centres, as well as the electrification of vehicles, heating, industry and more, electricity consumption will rise rapidly in the coming years. These developments have had a huge impact on the grid. We also installed five smart medium-voltage stations to help resolve outages more quickly in the future. Liander has installed new networks so that new-build homes in the district of Amsterdam-Noord, for example, can be connected. In addition, more than 250 new charging points were connected, and we brought an underground gas distribution unit into operation. Under the Amsterdam Natural Gas-Free initiative, the first homes in the Gentiaanbuurt district were weaned off natural gas.
Preparations were started in 2019 for the launch of a flex-market in the Zuidplaspolder area to reduce the pressure on the network as much as possible. In addition, Liander and the municipalities in the Holland Rijnland region conducted a scenario study to gain insight into where and when investments in the electricity grid are needed to facilitate economic developments and the energy transition. The first steps have been taken to integrate these grid investments in the region. We took the first steps towards implementing solutions to facilitate renewable energy initiatives in Boskoop.
Flevoland has a vast amount of rural land, perfect for renewable energy initiatives. This is already taking place on a large scale with the many wind turbines. In addition, the number of planning applications for solar farms is increasing. This presents our organisation with the major challenge of seeing that the infrastructure is ready to accommodate this, alongside facilitating large-scale generation of wind energy. For this, cooperation between government, business and Liander is needed. In 2019, we worked on connecting the solar farms in Luttelgeest (4MW) and Almere De Vaart (20MW).
Access to affordable energy
Thousands of households cannot or are barely able to pay their monthly energy bill. According to research agency Ecorys, this group may become larger if all homes are disconnected from the gas grid. This is alarming news. As a network operator, we stand behind the principle that energy should be accessible and affordable for everyone. Last year we completed a trial with prepaid energy. The pilot was carried out by Alliander, Stedin, Greenchoice, Vattenfall and Energiebank to make households more aware of their energy usage and offer them additional help so they can avoid being disconnected and accumulating new debts. From the pilot it emerged that prepaid energy gives consumers more control over their energy costs and helps them save money and prevent payment arrears. It also boosts the sense of self-reliance.
We prefer not to disconnect customers’ power in the winter. In this context, we go further than the law requires. The law states that we must stop disconnecting customers if it freezes in De Bilt (the site of the Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute) for 48 hours. Every week, we take a look ahead to determine whether the average temperature will be below zero in any 24-hour period. In cases of doubt, we decide in the customer’s favour.
Online campaign helps prevent ‘contractless’ customers
Every year, Liander has to deal with customers who consume energy but do not pay for it since they do not have an energy contract. This can happen as the result of moving home for example. This type of administrative network loss costs us €16.9 million annually. Reducing the number of customers without a contract helps decrease network losses while increasing customer convenience. We launched an online campaign to inform customers who are in the process of moving about taking their energy contract along with them or concluding a new contract. In total we reached over 4.5 million people through social media and online ads, and the video was viewed almost 5 million times. The result is that more customers now know the importance of arranging a contract. The number of customers without a contract when they move home fell from nearly 39% to 35% during the campaign period. Seasonal influences also played a role in this.