Green

Vision

The argument being made by GasTerra, other parties in the energy sector and leading experts that, at least in the short and medium term, the fossil fuel gas is essential for reducing the greenhouse gas carbon dioxide would seem at first sight to be a contradiction in terms. This is because it implies that the more gas we burn, the lower the CO2 emissions will be. The explanation for this apparent contradiction lies in the simple fact that consuming natural gas releases considerably less CO2 than burning the other two important fossil fuels, coal and oil. Thus replacing coal and oil with natural gas where it is possible and worthwhile to do so reduces total emissions from energy consumption.

This gas paradox is the basis for GasTerra's energy transition and sustainability policy. The company focuses on public concerns about energy matters and the role of gas in the solution to the energy question: safety, security of supply, affordability, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving air quality. This is why we argue for a diverse range of means and resources to be used: promotion of renewable energy sources, especially green gas, technological innovation, maximum energy savings, binding emission ceilings and strengthening the competitiveness of gas.

In this context we put the emphasis on promising gas applications: in the built environment and in the transport sector. LNG for shipping and road transport and CNG for cars, for example, are significantly cleaner fuels that could achieve large-scale reductions in highly polluting emissions and CO2. We also argue for an effective reform of the European emission trading system to improve the present shaky position of gas in central electricity generation. We seek to engage in as much dialogue and cooperation as possible with other stakeholders, such as the government, politicians, science and education, think-tanks, NGOs and companies, stressing that we are in agreement on the aims of a CO2-neutral, secure and affordable energy supply. Our point of departure is the conviction that efficient use of natural gas will make a substantial contribution to the solution to the energy and climate question. For the time being we cannot manage without gas.

Sharing knowledge

GasTerra believes that it is important to arouse more interest in the energy questions among stakeholders. We are facing the huge challenge of supplying future generations with sufficient sustainably generated and affordable energy. This is why knowledge-sharing is one of the material issues in this annual report. In 2015, just as in 2014, we spent around three million euros on energy transition projects.

We share knowledge through educational institutions – from primary schools to university – and through public debate. Examples of this are the Energietransitiemodel.nl, an independent, fact-based energy model that is used by authorities, companies and NGOs; the GasTerra Energizer Award for students at our universities of applied sciences; the Energy Academy Europe (EAE) a top institute where education, research and innovation in the energy field are brought together under one roof; and the Your energy of tomorrow truck in which secondary school students are given lessons on energy in a mobile classroom. The focus is on making the energy supply more sustainable, energy transition and the role that natural gas can play in this. This is how we are sharing ideas and reflecting on the energy supply of tomorrow.

At the Energy Transition Centre (EnTranCe), the testing ground of the north, we share ideas about how natural gas can facilitate the transition to a CO2-neutral energy supply. It is located at Zernike Science Park in Groningen and is a living lab where educational institutions and industry do research into the future energy supply. A living lab for energy, where creative ideas and proposals in the energy field are developed into successful products or projects. GasTerra is involved in various EnTranCe research projects. Since its formation in 2012, the company has collaborated with partners such as EAE, BAM, Gasunie and RWE. The underlying idea is that we can achieve more through shared innovation.

This can be illustrated by various projects that took place in 2015. EnTranCe students developed an idea for floating solar panels on water. The advantage of floating solar panels is that it is relatively easy to get them to turn with the sun. In addition, the reflection on the sun on the water increases their output. This idea has since been tested at Westpoort industrial estate to the west of Groningen. The initial results are promising. All in all this is a good example of how industry and education work together with EnTranCe as the link joining them together.

The test with the floating solar panels is a good illustration of the fact that as well as developing knowledge it is also important to test it. EnTranCe has found a permanent partner for this in the Municipality of Ameland. The island wants to become energy-neutral in the near future and is working all out to achieve that. In 2015, we played a role in implementing knowledge acquired at EnTranCe in the form of concrete projects on Ameland, including the installation of 45 fuel cells, 45 hybrid heat pumps in homes and heating the Nature Centre with gas heat pumps. The most recent project is the installation of the largest solar farm in the Netherlands, a 10-hectare site with 24,000 solar panels. We can see therefore that there is a strong link between EnTranCe and the Sustainable Ameland project. It is through projects like this that we are working on energy transition with the government, industry, educational institutions and students. Together these parties are making sure that Ameland leads the way in energy transition.

Gas advocacy

GasTerra believes that gas is an indispensable fuel in the transition to a sustainable energy supply. However, the image of gas has taken a knock because of the earthquakes caused by extracting gas from the Groningen Gas Field, the Ukraine crisis and public concern about gas that is difficult to produce. These factors could lead to the supply of gas decreasing in the long term.

GasTerra tries to improve the image of gas through various activities. To encourage dialogue between parties that play a role in the energy world, such as science, trade associations, government and politics, the environmental movement and businesses, GasTerra organised ten energy podium dinners throughout the country in 2015. The invited diners discuss pre-chosen energy themes during the meal. The aim is to deepen and broaden knowledge about energy and to increase understanding of the others' viewpoints. GasTerra embarked on this initiative in 2012, which since then has produced important input for our stakeholder dialogue. The dinners emerged from an earlier GasTerra initiative: the independent debating site energiepodium.nl. This website presents news, opinions and background information about the energy world in a journalistic style. It has permanent columnists who are free to choose their own topics and adopt their own positions within their areas of expertise.

In the Netherlands, the company supports the gas sector organisation KVGN. This association serves the interests of gas in the energy supply in the Netherlands. GasTerra also tries to promote the role of gas in energy transition through other channels. In 2015, GasTerra took part in the CE Delft Think-tank and 'Gas as part of long-term sustainable energy management' (GILDE), in which Shell, Nogepa, EBN and Gasunie also participate. The aim was to develop a joint vision and message on the role of gas in energy transition. GILDE developed a vision in 2015 and is now actively disseminating this to all parties that have endorsed the Energy Agreement as well as to the general public.

In Europe GasTerra engages in gas advocacy via Eurogas, including through the GasNaturally campaign, in which all European gas associations are represented. At the global level the International Gas Union (IGU) takes the lead in promoting gas. GasTerra coordinated the Dutch contribution to IGU’s World Gas Conference in 2015.

GasTerra's footprint

One of GasTerra's objectives is to promote sustainable business. We help our customer with this but we do not forget our own business operations. For all the products and services that we purchase, we look at price, quality and the efforts suppliers are making to do business sustainably. We then make a choice from what is on offer based on these three criteria. We do this because we think it is important that sustainability is rooted within and outside our organisation. We are aware of the impact of our activities on people and the environment and this is how we show people both inside and outside the company that we take corporate social responsibility seriously. We do business with Atos, for example, a company that has an A rating on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines and which uses green data centres.

When choosing suppliers, we give preference to local partners in order to boost the economy of the Groningen area. In 2015, for example, €11,215,177 was spent on non-gas-related goods and services, including automation, temporary staff, catering and cleaning, 38% of which were provided by suppliers from the region.

Travel

GasTerra encourages its staff to use public transport for business journeys and has bought public transport cards for this. As well as the train, bus, tram and metro, employees can use these cards for public service taxis and to pay for rented bikes and park and ride parking. In addition, staff can work from home or use video-conferencing to reduce business travel.

Energy consumption

Since the move to our new premises in 2013, the company set itself the target to reduce gas consumption to 35,000 m3 gas per annum. GasTerra achieved this objective in 2015. Our gas consumption was 38,264 m3 in 2013, 16,820 m3 in 2014 and 19,274 m3 in 2015. The increase in 2015 compared with 2014 was due to a faulty adjustment of the gas heat pumps resulting in more gas being used. This has been repaired meanwhile and we expect to see a fall in consumption again in 2016. The office is heated by two gas heat pumps which use geothermal energy (storage of heat or cold). When it is colder and the heat pumps do not have sufficient capacity, the office has two high efficiency (HR107) boilers to increase capacity. In addition, the lighting is regulated better, so that lights are not on when they are not needed and in certain periods (summer and Christmas) floors of the office building are closed so that we use less energy. We expect to be able to reduce energy consumption further in the coming years by making staff more aware of the energy we consume.

  2015 2014
Gas consumption 19,274 m³ 16,820 m³
Electricity 338,504 kWh 346,237 kWh
Water consumption 1,324 m³ 1,393 m³
Paper consumption 438,505 sheets 400,000 sheets*

* This is the amount of paper ordered in 2014.

GasTerra set off its CO2 emissions for flights and lease cars in 2015. Since 2015, we have also set off the CO2 emissions of our office premises. We do this by buying carbon credits from the Climate Neutral Group. The Climate Neutral Group is then able to invest in climate projects in countries where this has a spin-off effect on the local economy, employment, incomes, the environment and the climate. The Climate Neutral Group meets strict quality criteria and is audited by independent authorities.

The product that we trade has its own footprint. The vast majority of the gas comes from Dutch sources such as the Groningen Gas Field and the small fields. A small proportion of this volume comes from abroad, in particular from Norway and Russia. As a gas trading company our own footprint is not large. Nevertheless we share ideas with our stakeholders on how they could reduce their footprints. Through our Environmental Plan for Industry, for example, we advise industrial customers on how to use less energy and we are actively working to produce gas from sustainable sources such as hydrogen gas. As a consequence of the rise of the TTF, communication with our customers is not as easy as it used to be. With this anonymous form of trading, we have little or no knowledge of what actually happens to the gas after it is sold. For this reason we try to promote the idea of reducing the footprint of natural gas production at the purchase stage. For example, GasTerra is one of the parties in the Project Delta Group (PDG) public-private partnership, in which we share ideas about how to reduce the footprint of gas production in Russia. The PDG does this by, for instance, sharing best practices in the area of natural gas production and reducing the physical footprint at the production sites.

In practice

GasTerra also contributes to the efficient use of gas and to research and development in green gas and the system function of gas in an energy supply that is becoming increasingly sustainable. It is in our customers' interest to use gas efficiently, which is why we encourage our industrial customers to do so. GasTerra drew up the Environmental Plan for Industry (EPI) for this purpose. In 2015, GasTerra carried out four EPI projects. Technical consultants worked with these customers to identify opportunities to improve energy efficiency in their business processes, reduce emissions and make their processes more sustainable. In addition, the CHP plants at six industries were investigated to see whether they could be used in a more flexible way in order to run them more economically.

GasTerra took part in demonstration projects in 2015, which emphasised the value of gas as a transitional fuel. The company also contributed to projects that emphasise the system function of gas. A medium-term time horizon (to 2018) has been chosen for these activities. This will enable us to make clear to our staff and stakeholders what GasTerra wants to achieve on the CSR aspects not only right now but over the next few years.

GasTerra implements the 'Green Gas Green Deal', an agreement which the company signed with the government and other market parties in 2011, through various contracts. In it we committed ourselves to trading the entire volume of green gas which can be fed into the GTS network in The Netherlands. By purchasing this gas, GasTerra is contributing to the fulfilment of its own goal: responsible sustainability of our energy supply.

We have noticed in recent years that it is becoming more difficult to get new green gas projects off the ground. There are various reasons for this, including the high investment costs. It is partly for these reasons that a number of market operators, including GasTerra, are in the process of preparing a new Green Gas Green Deal to create an extra incentive for green gas production. An example of this is the reduction of the initial investment costs of fermentation by standardising techniques.

GasTerra continues to actively approach producers of green gas. In 2015, our aim was to conclude five new purchase contracts. In the end two new contracts for the purchase of sustainably produced gas were concluded and four contracts were extended for one year or more. The two new contracts were with Omrin and Attero. Both companies operate in the collection and processing of waste. Omrin expects to be able to start producing green gas in the second quarter of 2016. Attero has been producing green gas for some time now.

 

Interview with Jan Jaap Aué, Wim van Gemert and Jeroen van den Berg (EnTranCe)

Interview with Jan Jaap Aué, Wim van Gemert and Jeroen van den Berg (EnTranCe)

It will be one of the major challenges in the near future: the transition to a sustainable society based on the use of clean energy sources.

At EnTranCe – the Centre of Expertise Energy of Hanze University of Applied Sciences Groningen and Energy Academy Europe – students, researchers, entrepreneurs, the industry and the general public join forces in building tomorrow’s sustainable society. Education, research and innovation come together at EnTranCe.

Read the interview with EnTranCe

Interview with Jan Jaap Aué, Wim van Gemert and Jeroen van den Berg (EnTranCe)

Necessity is the mother of invention, crisis the father of implementation

Energy transition is a difficult issue. Despite all the publicity about sustainable projects, investments in wind farms, solar farms, biogas plants and so on, we are still not really making much progress. We are waiting for a real breakthrough. One of the organisations that is doing research in this field is the Energy Transition Centre, or EnTranCe. This member of the Energy Academy Europe and the Hanzehogeschool Groningen is a laboratory for applied research, a testing ground for energy. We spoke to Jan-Jaap Aué, Wim van Gemert and Jeroen van den Berg, who have various management roles at EnTranCe.

What makes EnTranCe different from other similar initiatives in this field?

Jeroen van den Berg: 'The fact that we are not doing this from an ivory tower but we are doing this in conjunction with other interested parties. Education, science and industry, including GasTerra, come together here and collaborate closely on to help to progress innovations in the field of energy production, distribution and applications.'

What is the vision and function of EnTranCe?

Wim van Gemert: 'You don't want to wait until there's a crisis. Necessity is the mother of invention, crisis the father of implementation.' Jeroen van den Berg: 'We need an energy revolution and we are educating the generation of students here who will have to make this revolution happen.'

Is it a testing ground of a playground?

Jeroen van den Berg: 'Both. It is a playground with a serious purpose. Innovation requires creativity. Creativity is not possible without playfulness. It is our job to encourage young people to come up with original solutions. It's not a mere paper exercise but nor can we expect everything to work at once. Much of it is about trial and error. The result is important but there are plenty of hurdles along the way.'

Do you put the emphasis on education or research?

Wim van Gemert: 'For the students what they do here is part of their studies but education is not the only objective. We also try to create genuine business here, as ultimately the success of energy transition depends on that. If we don't launch any products on the market or make a contribution to that happening, we have not succeeded.'

Can you give us some examples of successful EnTranCe innovations?

Jan-Jaap Aué: 'We collaborated on the development of a small bio-digester for the Van Der Valk hotel and restaurant chain. It produces energy from waste. Some other solutions stand out because of their simplicity and ease of application. Example: floating solar panels that produce a higher output because they capture more direct and indirect sunlight and can easily be cooled. Someone from outside EnTranCe came up with the idea; our students investigated how high the output gains would be and so helped to bring this product on to the market.’

These are innovations that are characterised above all by originality and which speak to the imagination. Is it not the case that the really important innovations are much more boring, for instance because they use existing conventional technology?

Wim van Gemert: 'Certainly. It's obvious to me that the energy system of the immediate future will be a hybrid system. We have to continue to use fossil fuels in a smart way for the time being. Eventually there will no longer be a place for fossil fuels but they are indispensable in the transition phase. What we are doing here is starting to stop. That takes time.'

Jeroen van den Berg: 'All the same we are not focusing on improving the current technology; we are not going to develop the next gas-fired power station or gas boiler here. For us it is more about fitting innovations into existing systems. I also think that we have to get away from that us and them thinking. It's not either-or but both. Fossil fuels provide the base load but where we can sensibly replace them we must certainly not neglect to do so.'

EnTranCe is also involved with Sustainable Ameland. This is an outstanding example of combining old and new. What do you expect from this project?

Wim van Gemert: ‘Projects like Sustainable Ameland are worth their weight in gold. We can put ideas into practice there, real practice, albeit on a relatively small scale. The great thing about this initiative is that it also shows that a successful energy transition is only possible with diverse energy carriers and energy sources: sustainable and conventional. On Ameland we are experimenting with hybrid heat pumps, electric transport and CO2-neutral construction and we are doing behavioural research.’

What is the greatest obstacle on the road to a climate-neutral energy supply?

Jeroen van den Berg: ‘Change must not go too fast. No huge leaps. That puts people off.'

So it is about behaviour, not just technology?

Jan-Jaap Aué: ‘Absolutely. People have to make the right choices. Innovation has to be acceptable to the consumers. They are primarily looking for comfort and low prices. You can make a lot of progress with this. The added cost of an energy-neutral home is not that much and so I'm not pessimistic. More and more people are willing to do their bit for sustainability. Not just for idealistic reasons but because it is cost-effective. We need therefore to create a bigger range of products for smart energy systems. I see the core task of EnTranCe as helping to find solutions that not only push energy transition forward but which are also attractive to consumers.’