Customers expect us to ensure a safe infrastructure and guarantee their safety while we perform our work. The safety of our networks for everyone involved is a high priority for us. We continuously invest in the reliability of our infrastructure based on information regarding the condition of our network.
Asbestos in above-ground systems and buildings
In 2021, we largely completed the asbestos remediation work in the 50kV switching systems. In addition, in the distribution activity area, we completed all asbestos inventories and carried out remediation work in spaces that needed to be tackled according to the industry-wide colour coding policy (red and orange).
Replacement programme for grey cast-iron and asbestos cement gas pipes
In 2019, in consultation with partners, we brought forward the completion date agreed for the remediation plan for grey cast-iron and asbestos cement pipes by eight years to 2032. Together with municipalities, contractors, suppliers of materials and excavation contractors, we identified opportunities for accelerating the work, where possible in combination with the heating transition. Various scenarios have been drawn up to determine what is needed. In line with the accelerated implementation of the replacement programme, we replaced roughly 150 kilometres of the grey cast-iron and asbestos cement gas pipes in 2021. During the period up to 2032, we will periodically carry out extra inspections of the remaining pipes to ensure they are safe. Besides replacing pipes, we proactively and frequently check for (small) gas leaks using highly sensitive equipment These checks are not limited to the grey cast-iron and asbestos cement pipes; they cover all main and connecting pipes in operation. This approach ensures that we can address gas leaks at an early stage, before they reach a critical level. As always, safety is our top priority. We remain alert to changing situations and new risks, and give high priority to the replacement of pipes wherever necessary.
Resolving and preventing outages
We employ a targeted approach when dealing with incidents that arise in the gas or electricity network. In addition, we do everything we can to prevent unsafe situations for employees and others in the vicinity. In 2021, we replaced a large number of substation locks to prevent doors from being left open. Additional measures aimed at promoting safe working practices in such spaces will apply until all the doors have been modified. We also took action to make low-voltage networks and networks for public lighting safe to touch.
Impact of environmental issues
Environment & Planning Act
The implementation of the Environment & Planning Act and secondary regulations has been postponed until October 2022. In anticipation of the new legislation, Alliander has started preparing for the upcoming system change. These preparations are essential because the introduction of the Environment & Planning Act will affect Alliander's activities in various ways. Alliander actively shares knowledge with industry peers and participates in various working groups, standards committees and other bodies.
In 2019, several construction projects were delayed because the remaining permitted nitrogen emissions volume in the Netherlands was too low to rule out possible negative effects of the construction projects on Natura2000 areas. Since then, Alliander calculates nitrogen loads and we take action to reduce nitrogen emissions when carrying out construction work close to Natura2000 areas. On 1 July 2021, the Act and the Decree on Nitrogen Reduction and Nature Improvement came into effect. As a result, a nitrogen load calculation is usually no longer necessary when laying cables and pipelines. The legislation exempts construction work in certain sectors, including Alliander's activities, from the requirement to calculate the nitrogen load. This is a positive development for Alliander from the perspective of task feasibility. At the same time, we continue to talk to contractors about implementing appropriate measures, including reducing emissions and further electrification of equipment.