The changes in the playing field for natural gas translate into changes for some of our activities. However, gas and gas infrastructure will continue to be the backbone for a reliable and affordable European energy supply in the coming decades.
In the changing environment, we want to use our infrastructure, knowledge and competencies to continue to create maximum value for customers and society. We have identified two growth paths for this: internationalisation and the development of sustainable activities.
We have incorporated these growth paths into our strategy. This strategy, including its further elaboration, was approved by our Supervisory Board after consultation with the shareholder. The strategy is supported by these three pillars:
- Pillar I – Optimum infrastructure: Ensuring a safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable gas infrastructure in our core area.
- Pillar II – Connecting Europe: Contributing to an efficient gas infrastructure and services for a properly functioning European natural gas and LNG market, in which we make a distinction between north-western Europe and European activities outside this area (the growth markets).
- Pillar III – Energy in transition: Accelerating the transition to a CO2-neutral energy supply.
These pillars are explained below.
Pillar I: Optimum infrastructure
Particularly after 2020, the gradual loss of the Dutch (L-gas) exports and decline in the demand for L-gas in the Netherlands will have a substantial impact on the use of the Dutch gas transport network. In the longer term, we expect a steady decline in the demand for natural gas in the Netherlands. Natural gas will still play a crucial role for the European energy supply and this sets high demands for the safety and reliability of our gas infrastructure. Our maintenance philosophy is geared to this. To promote the efficient use and, by extension, affordability of our Dutch and German gas transport networks, it is important to strengthen our position on the international supply and transit routes and our LNG position (including in the small-scale market) in the Netherlands and Germany. In many cases, this will involve high-calorific gas (H-gas). We are therefore making preparations to ensure that our existing L-gas pipelines can be used for the transport of H-gas after 2025.
We are using our infrastructure and knowledge to facilitate further reductions in gas extraction in Groningen. We are aligning our maintenance strategy with the expected decrease in L-gas and the integration of new import flows, which will change the utilisation of our compressor stations, in particular.
We want to use our existing infrastructure to facilitate the feed-in of green gas. We are working towards this by means of a green gas booster, by realising green gas connections for third parties and by equipping our network for the feed-in of green gas (by lowering the pressure of the RTL, for instance).
Making gas transport and storage more sustainable continues to be an important point for attention. In cooperation with other European gas infrastructure companies, we have set ourselves the goal of reducing our carbon footprint to nil. One of the focal points here is to further reduce methane emissions, which currently amount to approximately 0.01% of the gas transported.
The north-western European market conditions remain challenging for the non-regulated activities (BBL, EnergyStock, Gate). New revenue models and the introduction of new services are aimed at maintaining profitability.
Pillar II: Connecting Europe
The gas markets in north-western Europe
We aim to maintain our leading position as a cross-border gas infrastructure company in north-western Europe. We therefore continue to optimise our network by means of operational efficiency, a liquid gas trading platform, sufficient storage and LNG import capacity, and solving bottlenecks. These are essential factors in keeping our network attractive and competitive for existing and new flows, including transit flows, even in a shrinking market.
The declining gas production from the North Sea and growing European imports from Russia are causing the European gas market’s centre of gravity to gradually shift towards Germany. In cooperation with the other German network operators, this development is being anticipated and socially desirable greenfield projects are being developed in the areas of LNG and the opening up of new supply routes.
Outside north-western Europe
We aim to expand our activities to the south-eastern part of Europe to a limited extent, through the development of transport hubs for example. This region is important for the transit of natural gas from production countries to the east of the region towards western Europe, as an alternative for the supply of natural gas from Russia. In this region, the gas market is still growing, partly because gas is being used to replace other fossil fuels with higher CO2 emissions, like coal for example. As a provider of consultancy services, we utilise our knowledge and expertise in the field of gas infrastructure and gas market development in south-eastern Europe.
Pillar III: Energy in transition
We want to deploy our knowledge, competencies and infrastructure to help accelerate the transition to a CO2-neutral energy supply. We see possibilities for using our knowledge particularly in four areas:
(1) green gas, (2) hydrogen, (3) heat and (4) CO2. So far, we have generally been doing this in collaboration with partners and through the Gasunie subsidiary Gasunie New Energy. As an illustration, a number of the projects in which we operate are described below.
- Green Gas: The Twente biogas network is being developed as part of a joint venture with Cogas. This network allows the transport of crude biogas to a processing installation where it is converted into green gas so that it can be fed into the regular gas network. Gasunie New Energy and SCW Systems have built a demonstration plant in Alkmaar. In this demonstration plant, biomass (waste) flows will be subjected to high pressure and temperatures and converted into green gas, which can be fed directly into the natural gas network.
- Hydrogen: In Zeelandic-Flanders, an existing natural gas pipeline between Terneuzen and Sluiskil is being converted for the transport of hydrogen. With European support, an investment decision has been made for the HyStock project, in which the yield from 1 MW in solar panels is being converted into hydrogen by means of power-to-gas. Together with Norwegian Statoil and Swedish Vattenfall/Nuon, the possibilities are being investigated for converting natural gas into hydrogen for use in, for instance, electricity production in the form of back-up for solar power and wind. In that plan, the carbon from the natural gas is stored underground in Norway in the form of CO2. We are also working with AkzoNobel to investigate the possibilities of large-scale conversion of sustainable electricity into green hydrogen at the Delfzijl Chemical Park.
- Heat: Gasunie is a partner in the Zuid-Holland Heat Alliance. The aim of this project is to realise a primary infrastructure for heat so that residual heat from Rotterdam industry can be used for private households and businesses in the province of Zuid-Holland. The goal is to be able to connect other sources in future as well.
- CO2: The government announced it wants to store approximately 20 Mton of CO2 per year in empty offshore gas fields by 2030. We see a role for ourselves in developing CO2-pipeline infrastructure for the storage and re-use of CO2. We are in talks on this with, amongst others, the Port of Rotterdam Authority, Energiebeheer Nederland (EBN) and the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate.
Gasunie Strategy Map: 2018-2020 "In motion"
Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR)
Our CSR policy and activities are aligned with our strategic objectives. CSR forms an integral part of our business activities.
Focal points of CSR policy
Our CSR focal points are footprint reduction, awareness in relation to the energy transition, sustainable mobility and socially responsible procurement. In a new multi-year policy adopted in 2017, we set ourselves the goal of achieving an emissions reduction of 4% on average per year. This will result in -82.5% in 2030 compared to the baseline year 1990 (the year in which we started registering our own emissions). We will evaluate this target in 2020. In addition, where relevant, CSR targets will be included in the individual work agreements and/or targets at all levels of the organisation.
We aim to reduce the emission of greenhouse gases by restricting and preventing CO2 and methane emissions, as well as optimising the use of energy and efficient combustion. Our footprint reduction programme contributes to the government objective of a climate-neutral energy supply by 2050. We aim to be a leader in this regard within the international gas infrastructure sector. We are one of the founders of the Green Gas Initiative, in which seven independent gas infrastructure companies subscribe to a shared long-term vision: achieving a CO2-neutral gas supply by 2050. With this goal in mind, the founders of this initiative work together on four themes: Footprint reduction, Biomethane, Transport and Power-to-gas. This last workflow was expanded in 2017 and now addresses all aspects of hydrogen relevant for transmission system operators (TSOs).
On the way to 2050, we want to reduce the CO2 emissions from our own operations by 20% by 2020 and by 40% by 2030, each time in comparison to the baseline year of 1990. The target for 2020 pertains exclusively to scope 1 of the international Greenhouse Gas Protocol, while the target for 2030 concerns the entire scope (1, 2 and 3). The production and/or purchase of more nitrogen for use in the production of G-gas will temporarily increase our CO2 footprint. For the results in this area, see the chapter on ‘Environmental results’ in this report.
Awareness in relation to the energy transition
We also try to make the energy transition concrete in the day-to-day reality of our employees, both during work and in their private lives. Our employees are our ambassadors and we therefore organise activities that increase the awareness of energy consumption and call attention to concrete opportunities to increase sustainability.
Since 2016, we have organised a Gasunie Buurkracht neighbourhood together with neighbourhood association Buurkracht. Buurkracht is an initiative by several network companies aimed at bringing people together to save energy.
In 2017, Gasunie employees organised a number of campaigns in this ‘virtual neighbourhood’. The results are explained in more detail in the chapter on ‘Environmental results’.
The goal of our policy is to reduce our carbon footprint caused by travel (mobility footprint). The most striking measures we have introduced are as follows:
- the CO2 emissions from all flights have been compensated since April 2017: this has yielded a 7% CO2 reduction in our mobility footprint;
- since 1 January 2017, lease car drivers have also been able to opt for electric and plug-in hybrid cars: for every ten electric cars, this represents a 1% CO2 reduction in our total mobility footprint;
- the stimulus measure for passenger lease cars using green gas has become a permanent part of our lease policy;
- some of our 287 commercial vehicles are already powered by green gas and more will be in future.
These measures have been introduced in order to achieve the long-term objective of a CO2 reduction of at least 25% by 2030. During the Spitsbergen expedition, the participating Executive Board members from Gasunie refined this ambition together with other companies. By 2030, our carbon footprint caused by travel will have been halved compared with 2015. We will be working to flesh out this ambition in the coming year.
Socially responsible procurement
In the coming years, we aim to intensify our efforts in the field of socially responsible procurement. Our point of departure in this regard is to tie in with our strategy and the CSR policy. A concrete example of this is that 40% of the electricity used in 2017 was green power. In increments of 20%, we will move towards 100% in 2020. The procurement of electricity required to produce nitrogen, which we increasingly use to convert high-calorific natural gas into Groningen-quality gas, will be made more sustainable in the same increments through the purchase of certificates. Our ambition is for our efforts to ensure that we maintain a level comparable to that of other TSOs in Europe.