What have we learnt
Stedin Group works on constructing, managing and maintaining the energy grids in our coverage area as effectively as possible. In doing so, we view facilitating the energy transition as an important task. We incorporated the principal lessons learnt and experiences of 2019 into the selection and implementation of the four strategic initiatives on which we will focus in 2020.
In 2019, we saw concrete evidence of how the energy transition is accelerating in the issues concerning grid capacity. In several parts of the Netherlands, grid managers were not always capable of connecting new solar farms to the electricity grid on time. While those issues were less acute for Stedin than for other grid managers, we are likewise asking ourselves how we should deal with them. Did we as grid managers fail to foresee this substantial growth of solar farms in time? What can we do to ensure that we are alert to developments on time? Our principal lesson is twofold. In the first place, grid managers such as we will need to be more transparent about our working methods and motives. As part of this process, we need to make clear what problems we are faced with and what solutions we are working on to resolve or prevent them. This process also includes proactively sharing information with market parties and striving to make this information properly accessible. Secondly, as grid manager, we need to make ourselves heard much more clearly in the public debate.
It is of the utmost importance not only to increase the sustainability of our energy supply but also to ensure that the path towardsthis result remains affordable for our customers and is viable for the grid managers. This reason is why coordination and direction by the government are so important.
In view of all the attention demanded by the current questions on grid capacity, there is a risk that we will devote too little time to the long-term development of our company. After all, our role as regional grid manager is also changing due to the energy transition. Data are a case in point.
Those data need to be collected, verified and interpreted. We need data as management information for our assets. In addition to the physical layer of assets (cables, transformers, pipelines, stations), a digital layer is being superimposed that we require in order to monitor the energy streams through our grids, which enables us to make smart investments in our grids. This digital layer also allows us to control those energy streams more effectively in order to improve our asset deployment. For this new, digital mode of grid management, that we require new skills and roles. Our responsibility for ensuring the supply security and affordability of our energy system will continue to grow. As a result, we will work on those new skills as part of the Strategic Initiative 'System operator'.
The energy transition is accelerating. This trend is also reflected in the 20% increase to the number of requests for connections in 2019. In combination with changes in our organisation and high client expectations, this reason is why customer satisfaction is not yet at the desired level. We need to become more agile, work more efficiently and maintain close contact with our clients in order to address as well as manage their expectations. These aspects are the core of the Strategic Initiative 'Customer-oriented connections'.
An important lesson of 2019 is that collaborating is hard work which also leads to concrete results. In 2019, Stedin committed strongly to collaboration with water companies. This partnership offers multiple advantages: we can save costs by collaborating on projects with water companies, while we can limit the inconvenience caused to our customers and to municipalities. The results that we have achieved by doing so have exceeded our expectations. We will accordingly continue this process in 2020.