Depending on customer demand, alternative infrastructures may be more efficient than traditional networks. Alliander is investing in the development of alternative energy networks, such as heating networks and e-charging infrastructure. Facilitating the market forms an important part of our corporate social responsibility. It is therefore crucial that this new infrastructure is accessible ('open') to everyone, both to customers and suppliers, on equal terms and that the user has a choice of suppliers.
Lelystad Airport and direct current
Lelystad Airport is being transformed into an innovative airport for holiday flights. We are currently building our first-ever public DC (direct current) network for the airport and adjacent business park. The public nature of the network means that it is open to multiple parties. We started designing this DC network in 2016. The new local network brings supply and demand together without any intervention of alternating current (AC). Almost every electrical appliance uses direct current. But the power outlet supplies alternating current. Many appliances therefore have a converter to change alternating current to direct current. And this costs energy. Renewable energy generated with solar panels is also direct current. So this, too, is initially converted to alternating current. A direct current network eliminates these two intermediate steps, and this saves a lot of energy. The potential savings in Lelystad are estimated at 10%.
With this first-ever public DC network, we at Liander want to learn and determine whether, where and how DC networks can complement our mainstream AC network. By customising the energy system to local needs, we help our customers with their renewable energy choices, while keeping the energy supply reliable, accessible and affordable for everyone.
Role in the heating transition
The energy transition is forging ahead in the field of heating. We are now entering a new phase. A natural gas-free energy supply is steadily becoming reality. Municipalities are taking matters into their own hands. The scope for alternative heating sources is being widened, in both their thinking and policies. Alliander DGO and Liander are working intensively together to find appropriate solutions for local issues. In 2016, for instance, they started preparations for pilots with natural gas-free neighbourhoods in Amsterdam and Leiden. The municipality of Ede was given advice for the avoidance of costly disinvestments in new-build areas by creating more synergy between the local heating company and the network operator. And at neighbourhood level, we helped community cooperatives prepare for their future role as suppliers of heating. These included cooperatives in Culemborg (Thermobello), The Hague (Vruchtenbuurt), Arnhem (BuurtGroenBedrijf) and Amsterdam (Meer Energie).
Heating Network in Hengelo
In 2016, Alliander DGO and energy supplier Ennatuurlijk took over Warmtenet Hengelo, a heating company in the municipality of Hengelo. This partnership agreement paves the way for the construction of the main pipeline to the heating network. Once the pipeline is in place, residual heating of AkzoNobel which has so far remained unused can serve to heat residential and business premises. Ennatuurlijk will act as supplier, while Alliander DGO will build and operate the network. This set-up ensures that the heating network can be expanded in the coming years.
The heating networks in the municipalities of Hengelo and Nijmegen have greatly reduced the usage of natural gas, leading to substantial savings in CO2 and particulate emissions. In April 2016, we inaugurated the biogas and industrial water pipeline between Industriewater Eerbeek (IWE) and the DS Smith paper-manufacturing factory. With this connection, both biogas and the treated water can be used directly at the factory. The resulting annual savings amount to 700,000 m3 of ground water and about 5,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
Professionalisation of electric mobility
Our subsidiary Allego is investing in new open e-charging infrastructure for electric mobility in the Netherlands, Germany and Belgium. The electric mobility sector moved up a gear in 2016. The number of electric vehicles expanded again (to 100,000 in the Netherlands) and car manufacturers launched new electric models. We expect to see a new generation of fully electric vehicles that are able to drive long distances coming onto the market from 2018. One important condition for further growth is the ample availability of publicly accessible e-charging stations for electric cars. Allego is aiming for an open infrastructure based on interoperability within the EU. An open infrastructure entails that e-drivers can use all charging stations and have a choice of suppliers.
Number of public and semi-public charging points in the Netherlands1
- 1Based on publicly available information from the National Enterprising Netherlands.