In our day-to-day operations, we are faced with issues that may form obstacles for the realisation of our ambitions. When this happens, we search for solutions and try to find alternatives in consultation with partners in our value chain. Some of the issues that we encountered in 2013 are described below.
Eneco strives to supply wind energy to an increasing number of customers. However, this involves a numbers of risks at a political and local level. Without political support, we will not be able to build a large number of wind farms. Furthermore, there is increasing consternation among local residents in connection with the planned construction of wind turbines and wind farms. Eneco attaches great importance to involving local parties in these projects at an early stage. We take the wishes of local residents into account and pay a lot of attention to communication with local parties.
Eneco’s internal business operations have been CO2 neutral since 2008. We have not achieved our target of a 44% reduction of CO2 emissions at Eneco Group in 2013 compared with 2007. The final result amounted to a reduction of 39%. For a large part, this can be attributed to the emissions from our company cars, which cannot be reduced easily. Our car fleet was expanded in connection with the larger number of technicians required for the installation of the Toon thermostats throughout the country and the increase in Joulz’s activities outside the Stedin network area. We believe that the time has come for the next step on our path towards sustainability: One Planet Thinking.
Eneco aims for an energy mix of clean electricity, heat and gas. Natural gas offers us the opportunity to make the transition to increasingly more sustainable energy in a responsible manner. However, the situation of supply and demand in the energy markets has resulted in very low margins for the production of electricity in plants. The spark spreads for gas-fuelled plants in particular, were at such a low level that we were not able to operate these plants at a profit. Although gas plants form an ideal combination with our wind and solar energy production capacity, we have decided to utilise our gas plant to a lesser degree until the situation improves. In connection with this, we have transferred one of the generators to a third party, which temporarily reduces the production capacity of our plant by 50% until a new generator is installed.
In 2013, the European Court of Justice ruled that group prohibition for network managers and energy companies, the prohibition on ancillary activities and the privatisation prohibition limit the free movement of capital and can only be justified under certain conditions. The Court states that any limitations must be appropriate means for the Dutch State to achieve its objectives and may not go beyond what is necessary to achieve the objectives pursued. This must be assessed by a Dutch court.
A forced unbundling will slow down the development of a sustainable energy supply. Therefore, Eneco would prefer to see the reversal of the unbundling process and that the legal provisions regarding the mandatory group prohibition are definitely declared non-binding (at present, these provision are not valid due to an earlier ruling of the Court of Appeal in the Hague). With this aim, Eneco is continuing the proceedings before the Court of Appeal. Furthermore, in view of the challenges facing society with regard to ensuring a clean, reliable and affordable energy supply, Eneco is also advocating that political leaders reconsider the points of departure that led to the choice for this legislation years ago.