Our stakeholders’ stories

Karel Postulart - Nuon Vattenfall

Karel Postulart - Nuon Vattenfall

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Karel Postulart - Nuon Vattenfall

Karel Postulart is a technical specialist at Nuon Vattenfall. Major maintenance was performed on two Nuon gas-fired power plants in Velsen in late 2016 and early 2017. The useful life of both plants was extended and all operating systems were adapted to the latest standards. This work was combined with renovation work by Gasunie on the gas receiving station near the power stations. The capacity of the station was also expanded. The work was performed in close cooperation between Gasunie and Nuon, with Karel Postulart acting as liaison between the two parties.

‘From the preparatory phase onwards, we had frequent and good contact with each other concerning the work, in particular with the project manager at Gasunie. There are always bottlenecks that need to be resolved, space must be available and environmental and soil issues have to be investigated. Work on our sites must take place in accordance with our rules, and the employees of Gasunie and its contractors must also adhere to those. It was important to us that the gas continued to flow, so that electricity production was not disrupted. We also had to make a few adjustments to our own network to make that possible. I am very appreciative of Gasunie’s contribution. Our concerns were addressed properly and that gives you confidence. The preparations went smoothly and the work was performed carefully. There are many cables and pipelines on the site and these had to be avoided of course. We managed to do that and everything was on schedule. Nothing but praise, as far as I am concerned.’

Arjen Blom - Gasunie

Arjen Blom - Gasunie

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Arjen Blom - Gasunie

It emerged in October 2017 that blasting grit contaminated with asbestos had been used for work carried out at many companies in the Netherlands. The grit had come from a large national supplier. A contractor using grit from the particular supplier for work at the Wieringermeer installation at that moment immediately informed installation manager Arjen Blom.

‘The contractor was blasting our above-ground pipelines so that they could be repainted. This blasting work is always done in tents in order to prevent the spread of the blasting grit. The contractor stopped work immediately when he heard that the grit he was using may have been contaminated with asbestos. He asked a certified agency to take samples of the blasting grit. Air samples and adhesive samples were also taken. The tests only found traces of asbestos in the blasting grit samples and not in any of the other samples. No asbestos was found on clothing, on the workstations in the office spaces or in the canteen. The grit was then cleaned up in accordance with the rules in effect for these substances. This grit was also used in work at other Gasunie locations and in most cases it turned out not to contain any traces of asbestos. Traces were indeed found at a few locations. Although there was an extremely slight quantity of asbestos, which moreover remained attached to the grit, the clean-up work was tackled with the utmost care. This took several weeks because everything, including the scaffolding on which the contractor was working, for instance, had to be dismantled, cleaned and removed in accordance with the rules. I think we responded well to this situation. We quickly addressed the matter, we immediately checked whether the grit had also been used at other Gasunie locations, we notified the employees and the Labour Inspectorate and we supervised the contractor to ensure the correct measures were taken. The seriousness and extent of the contamination proved to be very limited. I assume that the national supervision of grit will be improved, because this incident had a major impact on a great many companies in the Netherlands.’

Gerard Essing - SCW Systems

Gerard Essing - SCW Systems

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Gerard Essing - SCW Systems

A plant for the conversion of wet biomass from residual and waste flows into sustainable gas and reusable raw materials was built in Alkmaar in 2017. SCW Systems and Gasunie New Energy work together closely on this project. The gas produced in this process satisfies statutory quality requirements and can be immediately fed into Gasunie’s gas transport network under high pressure. The process makes use of a new, innovative technology: supercritical (water) gasification. The plant is the world’s first industrial supercritical gasification facility. Gerard Essing is director of SCW Systems and project leader for the activities taking place in Alkmaar.

‘In Alkmaar, we are imitating nature, just faster. If water is heated to over 375°C at a pressure above 221 bars, it takes on a different form: this is the supercritical phase. Wet biomass, such as sewage sludge and liquid manure, is then converted into the gases methane, hydrogen and CO2 and the minerals ammonia and phosphate. The water that remains is clean and can be reused. Uses can be found for all the elements yielded by the process, so we make an important contribution to a sustainable cycle and therefore towards achieving Dutch climate goals. The gases become available under high pressure and can be fed into Gasunie’s gas transport network. That is why this development could in fact be very important for the Netherlands. An extensive gas infrastructure is already available for ready use. In principle, all gases released in the process can be fed into Gasunie’s network, but we are starting with methane. We mix the hydrogen with CO2, which creates extra methane. Gasunie and SCW Systems are working together closely. Gasunie has a great deal of knowledge of and experience with industrialising gas treatment processes, which is very valuable in combination with SCW's innovations and experience with supercritical water systems. I expect that we will be able to deliver the first 100% methane gas to the network at the end of 2018. The process is particularly energy-efficient. It produces 3 to 6 times more energy than it requires. In the Netherlands, we currently consume approximately 2,000 petajoules of energy annually. With Dutch biomass, supercritical water gasification can be used to generate a maximum of approximately 200 petajoules. The first demonstration plant can already supply 20 MW annually. I therefore have high expectations of this possibility of producing green gas from biomass on a large scale. As far as I am concerned, we shouldn't just leave it at this plant in Alkmaar.’

Alfons Krom - Gasunie

Alfons Krom - Gasunie

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Alfons Krom - Gasunie

Alfons Krom works as a material integrity specialist in Gasunie’s Health, Safety & Environment department. He wrote his doctoral dissertation on the effects of hydrogen on the mechanical properties of steel. While working at TNO, he was involved in the NaturalHy project, a European research project on the possibility of using gas transport networks for the transport of hydrogen. Due to his vast knowledge of the material, Alfons is closely involved in the hydrogen projects at Gasunie.

‘The research project showed that the steel we use for our pipelines is also suitable for transporting hydrogen. Our infrastructure can therefore be very valuable in the future as well. A great deal of research on hydrogen has already been conducted. It is not a new gas, and it has already been widely used, among other places in the petrochemical industry. Hydrogen is very similar to methane, but there are also differences between them. The hydrogen molecules are smaller than methane molecules and the energy required to ignite hydrogen is substantially less. You have to take that into account, for instance, when you embark on maintenance activities. Together with colleagues from the Health, Safety & Environment department, we look at work safety and external safety. We plan to build a test rig to further expand our knowledge of hydrogen. This will allow us to investigate and demonstrate the behaviour of hydrogen in different parts of our infrastructure. It will enable colleagues to gather experience with this energy carrier, a new one for Gasunie.’

Rainier Stolk - Innogy

Rainier Stolk - Innogy

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Rainier Stolk - Innogy

Rainier Stolk is Regulatory Affairs Manager - Gas for the Netherlands and Belgium at Innogy. In this capacity, he maintains close contact with Gasunie Transport Services B.V. (GTS).

‘We supply gas to end users such as domestic households and industry. In terms of size, we are one of the larger users of GTS’s infrastructure. Our relationship goes back years and we regularly meet each other, for instance at shippers’ meetings. GTS has the statutory duty of ensuring there is sufficient transport capacity. This task is becoming increasingly difficult because the energy landscape is in constant flux. How will they fulfil this in the years to come? Gas will continue to be an important source of energy for a number of years, which is why the gas infrastructure will continue to be important as well, also for the transport and storage of more sustainable energy sources, such as biogas and hydrogen. The Netherlands is facing the great challenge of reducing CO2 emissions. What role can natural gas still play in the transition phase? The future cannot be predicted, which is all the more reason to prepare ourselves as well as possible. Our relationship with GTS provides the room for this. In my experience, they are willing to listen and good arguments can result in changes to policy. GTS facilitates us and contributes ideas for keeping costs under control, especially for domestic households. I would appreciate it if GTS were to ask us and other parties for our opinion more often, so that this can be taken into account in the decision-making. That does not always happen at the moment - the elimination of the Julianadorp exit point is one example. Given GTS’s capacity to learn, I trust that we will continue to engage in dialogue on these kinds of topics as well. That would fit in ideally with the relationship we have with each other.’

Allard Castelein - Havenbedrijf Rotterdam

Allard Castelein - Havenbedrijf Rotterdam

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Allard Castelein - Havenbedrijf Rotterdam

The Port of Rotterdam Authority wants to make Rotterdam's port a global front-runner in the energy transition. To this end, the Port of Rotterdam Authority is working closely with businesses in the area, government agencies and other parties that are also making a contribution to the transition to a climate-neutral, CO2-free energy future, such as Gasunie.

Allard Castelein, CEO of the Port of Rotterdam Authority, believes this cooperation is important, for instance because of the specific expertise that Gasunie provides in relation to large-scale, ‘open’ energy transport networks.

‘We want to develop the Rotterdam port into the place where the energy transition takes shape. We are also obligated to our position to ensure that. The businesses in the port area use a great deal of energy in their production processes. A substantial percentage of that is energy from fossil fuels; consequently, they are together responsible for approximately 20% of the total CO2 emissions in the Netherlands. In order to be able to achieve the Paris climate goals, these emissions must be reduced. The Rotterdam port is important for the Dutch economy and for employment. Some 180,000 people work at or for the port. Cooperation between public and private parties is vital for the energy transition. The Port of Rotterdam Authority can initiate, facilitate and coordinate. I see a great deal of movement and enthusiasm among businesses to join in with this and also among other parties who want to contribute their expertise.’

High-quality knowledge

‘I know Gasunie to be a reliable partner that has high-quality knowledge of open networks. That is why I approached them for the Zuid-Holland Heat Alliance, a coalition of parties whose goal is to use existing and new pipelines to bring residual heat from industry to potential customers, such as market gardeners, private households and businesses. Other sources of heat, for instance, heat originating from biomass or geothermal energy, will also play an important role in the network. The gain lies mainly in avoiding the need for natural gas - some 1.3 billion m3 - for heating at the end users. And that makes a substantial contribution towards achieving the climate goals.’

Collaboration

‘We are also working together to develop a new network that will be constructed to capture, transport and provide underground storage of CO2 in the North Sea. Another project we are working on, which recently started up, involves the construction of one or more energy islands just off the coast. A great many wind turbines and offshore wind farms could be connected to this kind of island so that the wind energy could then be transported to land as green power or converted into sustainable hydrogen. The realisation of Gate terminal also brought us in close cooperation with Gasunie several years ago. Our paths cross frequently, therefore, and contact is always pleasant, both in project teams and at management level. We are facing the same challenge, we share the same ambition and we are confident that we will make a success of that together.’