We see three trends that will impact the energy system.
More local generation
More parties are generating electricity locally from the sun, wind and other renewable sources. This is visible all around us in the proliferation of solar panels on rooftops and wind turbines in the countryside. Some customers now also want to combine solar and wind energy.
Demand for energy in our society is rising. Although electrical appliances continue to be more energy efficient, we see that the increasing and more intensive use of electrical applications still requires larger transport buffering capacity and high reliability of the grid. Added to this, the dependence and use of gas is projected to decline significantly in the coming decades. The Energy Agenda presented in 2016 also stresses that we need to phase out natural gas in the built environment. This will have a major impact on the activities and infrastructure of network operators.
In the energy sector, as elsewhere, digitisation is advancing at a rapid pace. Information technology and data are set to play a crucial role in the design, operation and optimisation of our energy supply. ICT and data enable network operators to improve their energy flow management, prevent and detect outages faster, make more targeted investments and offer new services to customers. It also enables them to optimise the usage of the existing energy infrastructure by suppliers and customers. This makes ICT a high-impact driver of change in the energy system, while creating important opportunities to address the challenges confronting our energy system.
Paris as catalyst
During the Paris climate conference in December 2015, it was agreed that global warming must remain well below 2 degrees Celsius compared to the pre-industrial era. For the Netherlands, this means an 80% to 95% reduction of greenhouse gas emissions by 2050. This agreement has acted as a catalyst. The CO2 reduction efforts must be stepped up considerably to meet the set targets. The need to achieve the climate ambitions is becoming more and more urgent. The quicker we effect the transition to a more sustainable energy system the better.