Enabling a safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply is central to our strategy. Through the connecting role of our infrastructure, we anticipate the energy needs of customers and consumers. In order to be able to continue to do so, we work in an innovative and pioneering way in the field of energy – and of gas and natural gas in particular.
Developments in our environment
Our strategy takes into account the opportunities and challenges of the rapidly changing energy market. Our point of departure here is the role of gas infrastructure in the sustainable provision of energy. We aim to expand our leading European position and, in doing so, we are always looking for possible collaborations with partners, both nationally and internationally.
Transition towards more sustainable energy supply
The developments of internationalisation and decentralisation go hand in hand with the increase of energy from renewable sources. On the one hand, the energy market is becoming increasingly international; on the other hand, the opportunities for decentralised energy generation are also expanding. In 2013, in the Netherlands, the government, employers and trade unions, environmental organisations and other social groups signed the Dutch Energy Agreement for Sustainable Growth. This agreement focuses on renewable energy sources, such as wind and solar power. We are anticipating this by actively looking for collaboration with international and distribution network operators (both gas and electricity), to guarantee a cost-efficient and reliable transition towards a renewable society.
In 2013, the Dutch network operators, united in Netbeheer Nederland, drew up the Dutch Renewable Energy Action Plan 2030. This plan outlines the developments and challenges of renewable energy and sets out the actions required to ensure a sustainable supply of energy. By scaling up existing pilot projects, the network operators and other parties aim to stimulate energy saving and help make the supply of energy (particularly the local supply) sustainable. We are an active participant in this.
The transition towards a sustainable energy supply can only succeed if we take advantage of the strengths of the different sources of energy and their infrastructures, and combine these into a total energy system. Gas and gas infrastructure play an important role in this.
Earthquakes and shale gas
In 2013, two other subjects were also high on the social and political agenda. The earthquakes resulting from the gas production in the province of Groningen and the discussion about the production of shale gas have dented the reputation of gas and diminished support for it. Gas makes the development of renewable energy, such as wind and solar power, reliable and affordable. By deploying gas as a flexible partner for generating electricity, optimum use can be made of the existing infrastructure. What is more, gas is an energy carrier that is also developing into a renewable type of energy though the production of green gas and hydrogen. We therefore think it is important for gas to continue to play a major part in the provision of energy in the future. The gas industry, including Gasunie, must continue to emphasise that gas is still one of the Netherlandsʼ major assets.
Gasunie’s shareholder structure
In October 2013, the Dutch government published its Policy on Government Participations. This document explains that the State aims, at least for the next few years, to continue to exert an influence on state companies, such as Gasunie. The main reason for this is that we manage infrastructure that is crucial for the functioning and further development of the Dutch economy. This means that the State will not be looking for private financial parties to make risk-bearing investments in Gasunie.
The policy document has not greatly affected our strategy and corporate governance. We have been serving the public interest for years, and work continuously on optimising our value – which also benefits Dutch society. Of course, our strategy will continue to meet the policy document’s requirements that apply to state shareholdings.
On 21 February 2014, the Minister of Finance, on behalf of himself and the Minister of Economic Affairs, sent a letter to the House of Representatives opening up the possibility of entering into strategic partnerships through cross-shareholding participations with foreign network operators that are certified in accordance with European legislation.
For the long term, we focus on three strategic themes that contribute to enabling a reliable, affordable and sustainable energy supply:
- Optimising the value of our existing assets
- Strengthening our leading position as a cross-border gas infrastructure company in Europe
- Enabling the transition towards more sustainable use of energy
Optimising the value of our existing assets
Our gas infrastructure activities are central to our strategy – and will continue to be so. In this, our primary focus lies on carrying out our legal tasks regarding gas transport and gas transport services by network operators GTS and Gasunie Deutschland, in order to facilitate a well-functioning gas market. Through our network operators, we ensure the management, proper functioning and development of the gas transport network by means of transport services and related services, quality conversion and guaranteed security of supply. Our guiding principle here is operational excellence: safety, reliability and efficiency.
Strengthening our leading position as a cross-border gas infrastructure company in Europe
In an increasingly consolidating market, we take up the challenge to maintain, and where possible strengthen, our leading position as a cross-border gas infrastructure player. In this, we aim to make sure that our infrastructure is the preferred route for market players for their gas transport. This will benefit the commercial and physical deployment of our assets. In addition, it also strengthens our position as the ideal negotiating partner for regulatory authorities. In turn, this enables us to exert a positive influence on appropriate legislation. Our positioning as an innovative service provider also contributes to this.
Enabling the transition towards more sustainable use of energy
The issues in the field of energy and sustainability are more challenging than ever. On the way towards a cleaner energy future that is affordable, reliable and, above all, feasible, we want to take advantage of any opportunities that arise. We therefore believe in a sustainable future in which gas will play an ongoing role.
As the share of sustainably produced energy in the energy mix increases, the need for flexibility and back-up will also increase. Gas and gas infrastructure can provide the flexibility that energy from renewable sources, such as wind and solar power, inherently lacks. Gas-fired power stations can quickly increase or decrease production, enabling them to deal flexibly with fluctuations in supply and demand (ʻgas-to-powerʼ).
By means of smart energy conversions, gas infrastructure can also be used to temporarily store any surpluses of sustainably produced electricity as gas (‘power-to-gas’). We are therefore investing in research into technology that enables the conversion of electricity into gas, such as hydrogen and methanised gas. This will help us to give the energy supply an innovation boost and make it cleaner and more efficient.