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    Dutch TSOs Study Future Energy System Needs


The Gasunie-Tennet joint study shows the need for closer co-operation to balance the networks.

by: William Powell

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Dutch TSOs Study Future Energy System Needs

Dutch gas transmission system operator Gasunie and its electricity counterpart Tennet have published their first joint study into the future of energy systems in the Netherlands and Germany. Infrastructure Outlook 2050 yields "new insights about the energy system of the future in the Netherlands and Germany," the state-owned entities said February 15. The study is part of the Dutch draft Climate Agreement, in which system integration plays an important role.

The two grids will have to work closely together to guarantee the reliability of the energy system. Increasing fluctuations in solar and wind energy production can only be smoothed out by integrating the two systems more closely. Their study also shows, for the first time, different scenarios covering further developments in the future energy supply.

Although elements within the future energy system are not yet economically viable under present circumstances, it is expected that costs will drop further as technology improves.

Tennet's CEOManon van Beek said: "Solar PV and offshore wind energy have shown huge cost reductions in a very short period. And the energy transition will accelerate as governments continue to set higher targets for restricting CO2 emissions. That's why we all need to act together now. This Outlook 2050 initiated by Tennet and Gasunie represents a solid, joint start with fresh insights. Industry is also a crucial partner in this process. For energy systems are not converted overnight but require sustained, joint efforts."

Gasunie CEO Han Fennema said: "The study shows the requirements and the restrictions relating to a future CO2-neutral energy system. In order to cope with increasing fluctuations in the energy network we need our gas and electricity infrastructures to be seamlessly aligned. If our Outlook 2050 makes one thing clear, it is that linking Tennet's network to Gasunie's will provide the flexibility required by the energy system; it will also keep the system reliable and affordable."

Main conclusions from Infrastructure Outlook 2050

The existing grids will play a crucial role in the future energy system. Electricity and gas complement each other well. Transporting electricity directly to the sectors where electrification is feasible remains the best option. An option for the other sectors may be (sustainable) gases such as green hydrogen.

As 2050 approaches there will be even more opportunities for storing electricity. Seasonal storage is reliant on gas buffers alone due to far greater volumes involved. This could provide the answer to prolonged periods of cold weather (meaning high demand) and little electricity being produced from sun or wind.

Hydrogen may play a major role in the future energy system. Large quantities of hydrogen could be made from (surplus) solar and wind energy, also known as power-to-gas (P2G). Of course, it is important for P2G installations to be positioned close to sustainable electricity production facilities, thus avoiding the high costs associated with expanding the electricity network.

All the scenarios indicate a significant increase in the necessity for electricity transport, through electrification of the market and generating energy sustainably. This will ultimately lead to a considerable increase in the use of high-voltage grids. Expanding the electricity transport grids is vital in order to prevent overload.

TenneT and Gasunie have identified two conditions for a successful energy transition.

  • Political willingness to build new electricity grid connections to facilitate predicted growth in demand by end users as well as the creation of a clear, supportive, regulatory framework;
  • Creation of a clear, supportive, regulatory framework for the integration of P2G (hydrogen) installations into the system to add the necessary flexibility and to avoid unnecessary costs for grid expansions.

Using Outlook 2050 as a basis, Gasunie and TenneT will, with the help of distribution system operators, carry out an integrated infrastructure study 2030-2050. This integral infrastructure study 2030 – 2050 is also specified as one of the agreements in the draft Climate Agreement. This study is to be available by 2021 and will provide more clarity on the trends in demand for electricity and gases.