Trends & developments
Gasunie has an important social role in the energy supply to its core markets of the Netherlands and Germany. Providing safe, reliable, affordable and sustainable transport of natural gas and other energy carriers is the most important value that we create for our stakeholders. In order to fulfil this role as well as possible, we must be alert and respond decisively to the developments inside and outside of our sector. We follow these developments closely, analysing the impact they have on our strategy and organisation and what impact we have on them ourselves.
The three most important developments for us in the coming years are:
Shifting gas flows
- The phase-out of the production of Groningen gas.
- The declining demand for natural gas in the Netherlands in the medium to long term.
- The stable European demand for gas in the short and medium term.
- The significant need for sustainable gases and heating and the storage and transportation of CO2 (CCUS).
- The need for available, affordable energy infrastructure.
Gasunie in transition
- As organisation, to continue to perform our role well in a changing energy world.
- The sustainable employability of our employees within or outside of Gasunie.
Shifting gas flows
In 2018, the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Climate decided to look into how and when gas extraction from the Groningen gas field could be scaled back, initially to 12 billion m3 per year and subsequently to zero. The most important criteria are the safety of the people residing in the gas extraction area and the security of supply. Gasunie is making a maximum contribution towards measures to realise the phase-out as quickly as possible. One of the key measures in this context is Gasunie’s construction of a nitrogen installation near Zuidbroek, for which the investment decision was made in October.
The phase-out of the production of Groningen gas means that gas will have to come from other sources. This will usually still involve natural gas at first. As we approach 2050, the percentage of natural gas in our energy mix will be increasingly replaced with sustainable gases. The decrease in the production of Groningen gas and the expiration of export contracts will also cause a decline in the export of this low-calorific gas to Germany, Belgium and France from 2020 onwards. The demand for transport capacity in our network will also decrease as a result. We want to continue to utilise our infrastructure well and keep the rates for our customers as competitive as possible.
That is why we are looking at options for attracting new gas flows, on the one hand, and at ways of minimising our costs while retaining our licence to operate, on the other.
At European level, demand is expected to remain reasonably stable in the years to come. While the movement to phase out natural gas has started in the Netherlands, especially in the built environment, we see that there are growth markets for natural gas in other parts of Europe. In these regions, natural gas is a means of phasing out the use of other fossil fuels such as oil and coal, and therefore for achieving CO2 reductions. We are participating in the proposed construction of an LNG terminal near Hamburg, for instance. The German energy supply has an enormous need for natural gas, initially as an alternative to brown coal to compensate for fluctuations in the production of solar and wind energy.
As far as new gas flows are concerned, we are considering further integration of the north-western European gas market and reinforcing the TTF as the most liquid European gas hub. We are also working to expand the feed-in options for green gas in the Netherlands. With these efforts, we support the trend towards producing more green gas.
The Netherlands started drawing up the Climate Agreement in 2018 in order to contribute to achieving the global climate goals. Approximately 60% of the energy supply is expected to consist of molecules, in other words gases, by 2050. Molecules are and will continue to be needed for use in various industrial processes, mobility, central electricity generation and for heating purposes in the built-up environment. Transportation and storage are crucial factors in this context, for both the reliability and the affordability of the energy supply.
Large-scale development and use of hydrogen presents the Netherlands with major opportunities to realise the necessary CO2 reduction. Hydrogen makes it possible to convert sustainable electricity into sustainable gas and vice versa, if required. It is essential that the infrastructure for gas and that for electricity be integrated with each other. To be able to realise this promptly and efficiently, we are working with TenneT on setting up this energy system of the future in the Netherlands and Germany.
We participate in projects focused on the development of green gas, the production and storage of hydrogen, heat grids and CCUS. These are activities in which our knowledge and experience enable us to contribute significantly. Some of these projects are focused on developing innovative technologies together with partners and amassing knowledge and experience. Examples of these include supercritical water gasification, electrolysis and hybrid heat pump projects.
Developments in the labour market and a sustainable HR and employment conditions policy
The world in which we live and work is changing rapidly. With regard to the labour market, we can distinguish three general trends that are relevant to us:
- The decrease in unemployment is slowing down, but there is (still) a shortage. Talented employees are often sought after by many companies.
- Ageing of the working population.
- Work is becoming increasingly flexible. The number of self-employed people without personnel is expected to increase further.
In Employees results, we describe how we dealt with this specifically in 2018.
Ready for the future
All the developments and activities outlined above can only be successfully implemented if our organisation is equipped accordingly. Our organisation must be flexible and agile. That means that we must manage both the contraction of some of our existing activities and the growth of new activities and build a high degree of flexibility into the way in which we organise our work. In doing so, we encourage our employees to develop their own initiatives that contribute to this.
Together with our employees, the Works Council and the trade unions, we have developed a programme to promote the sustainable employability of all employees. The essence here is to give employees the latitude to take charge and expand their competencies with new knowledge and experiences that tie in with the developments inside and outside of Gasunie. We see that this package actually contributes to greater employability of employees both within and outside of Gasunie. At the same time, we see that the decrease in work is occurring more quickly than expected. That is why we offered employees who had been with the company for ten years or more a voluntary severance scheme at the end of 2018. This severance scheme gave our organisation the latitude to reduce its size faster, but in a controlled way. The maximum number of participants - 240 - was reached at the end of January 2019. Many of these colleagues will be leaving Gasunie during the first quarter of 2019.