Utilities Lead Energy Savings By Example

A coalition of Dutch utilities is cooperating to reduce their energy consumption and emissions.
Published: Fri 05 Feb 2016

Back in June 2010 in the early days of Britain’s then coalition government, an initiative was introduced that surprisingly, and to the best of our knowledge, hasn’t been emulated elsewhere.

As part of an initiative to be the “Greenest Government Ever”, with a target of cutting emissions by 10% over the year, government departments were required to put their real-time energy usage online, where it could be viewed and monitored by any interested persons. Indeed, some of this data still appears on line – for some buildings including the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) up to the end of November 2015 – but the initiative was given little publicity and consequently received little attention and lost huge promotional value.

What is surprising is that as far as we know, no utility has considered doing the same, and woefully few have publicised their own energy saving and energy efficiency initiatives. Especially when one of the benefits trumpeted for smart meters – and an important line in some business cases – is their potential for energy saving.

Dutch DSOs cooperate in ‘Fair Infra’

So it is refreshing to hear that a group of Dutch DSOs have agreed publicly to cooperate on reducing their energy consumptions and emissions.

In the ‘Fair Infra’ initiative, Enexis, Gasunie, Alliander, Stedin, TenneT, KPN and ProRail will cooperate in moving towards more sustainable operations across their businesses. Together these companies account for more than 5% of energy consumption in the Netherlands.

Specifically, the seven operators have identified several issues on which they will work together:

• Energy savings in their companies

• Generation and use of renewable energies

• Re-use of recycled materials, such as cables, pipelines and railway tracks

• Sharing of infrastructure and assets, where possible

• Use of fair and sustainable IT and infrastructure.

“The Dutch Energy Agency is very excited about this step,” commented Michel Schuurman, program manager Circular Economy. “Given the size of all these infrastructure operators, it will directly contribute to lower CO2 emissions in the Netherlands.”

The Dutch Energy Agency supports the DSOs’ Green Networks platform under the Ambition 2020 initiative.

Sustainable practices in action

Examples of initiatives from the DSOs include ProRail already generating electricity from PV panels situated on the roofs of railway stations and KPN and TenneT buying green power for their operations from wind farms.

Gasunie has succeeded in transporting gas flows more efficiently by reducing the heating in the networks.

Alliander and Stedin have introduced the “Fair Meter” project, which enables recycling of materials from old energy meters. Enexis is focusing on sustainability in the procurement of cables and the reduction of network losses.

Dutch government as partner

The Dutch government is considered as an important partner to achieving the goals of the initiative and during 2016 the relation with the DSOs will be formalized.

Further reading

Green Networks platform

DECC and other UK government buildings energy use

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