Making better use of the network

In order to reduce the pressure due to congestion, Liander is working hard to make better use of its networks. There are opportunities here, as capacity is often still available outside of peak times. Making energy usage more flexible is therefore crucial and can help us maximise the number of customers who have access to the power grid. It will help to reduce the pressure due to congestion in the short and medium term, and will also contribute to security of supply as the share of our energy from volatile energy sources increases. Alliander will be introducing new customer products to make optimum use of the dips in network usage and to ensure that as many customers as possible can be connected to the power grid.

Roll-out of customer products 

To stimulate the flexibilisation of energy demand, we set up a special team last year that aims to offer flexibility products to large business customers. We have noticed that the ‘CapaciteitsBeperkend Contract’ (CBC, Capacity-Limiting Contract) is particularly popular among customers in congestion situations. One example of the successful application of a CBC can be seen in the Leimuiden area. Due to a capacity shortage at the substation, companies were asked to reduce their usage at peak times for a monetary reward. A grower responded to this invitation, allowing nine other businesses to be connected before the power grid was expanded. Liander helped a total of 145 customers with a technical solution or a flexible contract. 

New contract types made possible sooner through National Network Congestion Action Programme

Liander is working together with industry peers in the National Network Congestion Action Programme (LAN) to make alternative transmission rights possible sooner in order to offer customers alternatives in addition to the 24/7 capacity guarantee. This should provide more opportunities for using dips in network usage. In the third quarter, the ACM published a draft code amendment decision with which network operators can offer alternative transmission rights (‘non-firm ATOs’) in congested areas. Since 1 February 2024, network operators can offer contracts without a fixed transmission capacity in areas where the power grid is full (referred to as congested areas). From 1 February 2025, network operators will be required to do so. 

Making smart charging the norm in public spaces

Alliander is committed to making smart charging of electric vehicles the norm in the public domain. In 2023, to promote this norm, the Smart Charging in the public domain guideline was published together with our partners. Smart Charging is the charging of electric vehicles within the capacity limits of the local transformer substation. It provides options to make optimum use of the locally available network capacity for all electricity users in a district. In addition, smart charging can prevent the local network from overloading due to demand peaks. Alliander has performed a practical test of this concept in Amsterdam and is using the guideline to target further scale up in the Netherlands. The guideline explains how municipalities and regions can translate the concept of Smart Charging into requirements for public charging infrastructure contracts.

Reducing demand for transmission capacity

In view of the skyrocketing demand for transmission capacity, we will also be focusing on preventing capacity issues in the years to come. Improving our consultations with customers, promoting collaboration and introducing more innovations in our supply chains will make it possible to slow down the ever increasing demand for transmission. In 2023 we investigated the possibilities in great detail. As it turned out, the main things we can do involve improving awareness for our energy needs. The recommendations will be converted into concrete actions in 2024. In 2023 we also invested in a project to visualise an ‘energy-aware society’. We used our spot at the Dutch Design Week to present an ice-cream stand that would respond immediately to solar energy (ice-cream would only be available if there was enough sunlight). This stand is part of our efforts to increase our collaboration with other parties to achieve an ‘energy-aware society’.

Behavioural change

Apart from making significant investments in our network, a behavioural change among high and low-volume consumers will also be required to reduce demand for transmission capacity at peak times and to make better use of the electricity network. The pressure on the electricity supply is mainly high at peak times. We still have room in the network outside of these periods, which can be used for housing development, economic growth and efforts to improve sustainability, provided that customers are flexible in their energy usage. Alliander is therefore working to introduce incentives that should encourage users to use electricity mainly during periods when sustainable wind or solar generation is high and use electricity less during peak times. In a study with CE Delft, we are also mapping out the other behavioural changes that would help to reduce the pressure on our infrastructure.

Increasing the load on assets

As a network operator, we are obviously also looking into ways of making better use of our networks by increasing the capacity we get out of the existing network. We have started assessments for all of our major stations to see how far we can increase their thermal load at peak times. This is possible by carefully analysing the load during the day and using off-peak times to let overloaded installations cool down. One example is the Hemweg station in Amsterdam, where we freed up an additional capacity of 41 MVA in 2023 by applying dynamic loads. By now we have freed up a total additional capacity of 128 MVA at 14 stations, while additional potential has been identified for even more stations. 

Making the energy system more flexible

As part of a complex multi-year programme, Liander worked on creating a more flexible energy system in 2023. Carefully balancing the demand for energy and its sustainable supply allows for more efficient use of the network. Market parties are charged based on energy flows actually measured and end users are encouraged to modify their usage. The regional network operators, TenneT, programme managers, suppliers and parties responsible for metering work closely together in this ‘Allocation 2.0’ programme to set up a system for allocating energy flows.

In April 2023 we took an important step towards modifying the allocation method, when new dynamic usage profiles were introduced. Usage profiles reflect the relative usage in a year for a certain type of customer. The old usage profiles did not take sufficient account of feed-in and were always determined well in advance. The new dynamic profiles take into account feed-in, as well as other factors like weather effects. The profiles are determined retrospectively and are based on data measured by the smart meters of a large group of customers. This reduces the fluctuations and shifts in the allocations. The new profiles method facilitates better market operation with fair, transparent and efficient processes.