Chicken and egg problem
But what do we do as grid managers; what is the correct order? ‘We need the government to break through the chicken and egg problem and to make choices for an integral approach’, says Manon. ‘What the grid managers would like is a systematic, efficient and above all phased roll-out of the infrastructure needed for the electrification. We simply cannot work everywhere at the same time. This has to done in phases and on the basis of an assessment framework.’ Koen is curious about Tennet's considerations for the purpose of prioritisation. Manon: 'We need help in the phasing of projects. We can only reach that phasing by means of prioritisation: which project is to be executed sooner, and which project can be carried out later? At present, customers are connected on a first-come, first-served basis. That is the implementation of the current legislation that prescribes this. The assessment framework must be endorsed by the government. Together with the national, regional and local public authorities, we must start prioritisation and phasing. What will we do first and what has to be done later?’ A structured approach is absolutely necessary, Koen believes.
Making better use of the grid
TenneT and Stedin also collaborate on grid congestion, including in Utrecht. Manon: ‘This announcement gave rise to a great deal of public noise. There is no “simple” solution; we therefore jointly support the call of the employers’ organisation VNO-NCW, for instance, to join forces – also in a Netbeheer Nederland context – and to look for solutions.’ Koen sees making better use of the grid as one of the solutions. 'If we match supply and demand more closely, that will also reduce the need for us to transmit electricity.’ The concept of the 'fast lane', in order to accelerate permit procedures, is another interesting idea, Manon believes. Koen agrees with this. ‘This is a huge challenge. That means that we also need quicker processes. Seven years for a permit application for building a medium-voltage station is very long. Acceleration is required if we want to achieve the climate goals. Permits are an important aspect of this.’
Recruiting technical talent
That acceleration can only take place if we also have enough technical talents. Manon: ‘We are looking for thousands of technical talents in the energy sector in the years ahead who can help us to put the required infrastructure in place. We are all fishing in the same pond. More financing is required for technical training programmes and graduation premiums for students. We are jointly committed to this.’ Koen is pleased in that connection with the cooperation in the Training & Development (T&D) fund, for example. ‘As far as I am concerned, in-house training, like we provide in our In-house training school, is a key way of attracting talent. If we can do that in more places, that will help enormously to ease the huge challenge we face.’