The energy transition

 

The Netherlands faces the daunting task of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. That is why the Netherlands focuses on sustainable energy. The transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy sources (green energy) is called the ‘energy transition’. During this energy transition, people and businesses should be able to rely on a well-functioning energy market.

In 2020-2021, ACM will focus on the following two subtopics:

1. Consumer problems in the energy transition

How do I turn my home into a green home? What renewable-energy options do I have? And how much does it cost? Everyone will have to deal with the energy transition at some point, and will have to make several important choices with possibly significant financial consequences. The energy market itself is also evolving during this transition, as many new providers enter this market. ACM thus sees new problems emerging. For example, more and more companies make promises in their ads about energy conservation and lower emissions. Many consumers appreciate such causes, and are willing to pay more for them. However, how are consumers able to make well-informed choices? First of all, businesses must provide correct and easy-to-understand information about their products and services. Consumers must be able to rely on that. Over the next couple of years, ACM wishes to devote extra attention to consumer information about sustainable energy products and services, for example by explaining to individuals and businesses about their rights and obligations, and by launching investigations, and, where necessary, taking enforcement action.

2. Roles and duties of system operators in the energy transition

Network companies and system operators see opportunities in the energy transition for new activities. Society, too, asks more of system operators in the transition towards alternative sustainable energy sources such as solar power, wind power, and heat. In that context, system operators have to make a lot of investments. This will have consequences for the network costs that consumers have to pay. New electricity-production facilities are expected to create a surge in demand for transport capacity. Think of offshore wind farms, solar panels, charging stations, and data centers. Over the next couple of years, ACM will closely monitor the roles and duties of system operators. For example, it will check the system operators’ plans for overinvestments and underinvestments so that the energy market will continue to function properly and that, during the energy transition, the system operators do not incur more costs than necessary. And ACM will continue to make sure that network companies do not engage in activities that are reserved for commercial companies.

In 2021, we will continue to deal with the following topics:

Keeping in mind the balance between affordability and the energy transition

The Netherlands is fully committed to the sustainable-energy transition. ACM expects the energy transition to lead to higher costs. Besides affordability, energy affordability for consumers is another public interest that ACM protects. That is why we will keep in mind the balance between the promotion of the energy transition and energy affordability for consumers, both in the short term and in the long term. In 2021, we will look for that perfect balance in our method decisions for system operators between, on the one hand, energy affordability and, on the other hand, sufficient opportunities for operators to invest in the energy transition.

Taking action against misleading claims about sustainability

Consumers more and more often wish to make sustainable choices when purchasing products or services. We stimulate this by making sure that, in their purchasing decisions, consumers are able to rely on honest and clear information, for example about the origin of their power or when adding insulation to their homes. That is why, in 2021, we will take action against businesses that make misleading claims about the sustainable qualities of their products and services. In 2021, we will check whether energy suppliers inform their customers properly about the origin of their electricity, not just of their green power, but also of their gray power. In addition, we will deal with businesses that are unclear about the price of electricity when using charging stations, or about their offers for participating in wind energy, or with regard to their energy contracts in their customer-recruitment efforts.

Information about collaborations between businesses with regard to sustainability

On the basis of the draft version of its Guidelines regarding sustainability agreements, ACM will offer information to businesses that launch collaborations with regard to sustainability. We are ready to examine how to make sustainability arrangements compatible with the rules. If the principles laid down in the guidelines are followed in good faith, but the arrangements turn out to be at odds with competition rules, ACM will seek adjustments to those arrangements, but it will not impose any fines. In early-2021, we will publish a new draft version of the guidelines, which we will use, among other purposes, as input in the European debate about this topic.

Latitude for experiments with new energy sources

For the energy transition to be successful, it is necessary that market participants have sufficient latitude to innovate and experiment. That is why ACM devotes attention to studies into new energy sources. In that context, ACM will examine to what extent it is able to give system operators in 2021 more latitude for experiments in order to stimulate the energy transition, for example with regard to hydrogen.

Assessments of the Energy Act and Heat Act

This year, the Dutch Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy (EZK) is expected to submit the bills for a new Energy Act and a new Heat Act to the Dutch House of Representatives. The new Energy Act will combine the current Dutch Gas Act and the Dutch Electricity Act. This new statutory framework will support and promote the energy transition. The Heat Act contains expanded duties for ACM. Oversight of heat companies will help boost consumer confidence in the supply of heat as an alternative to natural gas. That is good for the energy transition. ACM will assess the feasibility and enforceability of these new rules, before the bills are sent to the Dutch House of Representatives.

Stimulating a resolution to congestion problems on energy networks

In 2021, ACM will adjust the rules for system operators so that it becomes clearer what their rights and obligations are in the case of congestion on their networks. In this way, ACM wishes to stimulate actively an expedited resolution to any problems on the network as a result of congestion. By congestion, ACM means bottlenecks in the network, where there is insufficient capacity to meet demand for the distribution of electricity or natural gas. Such congestion is also an obstacle for the energy transition.

Share your ideas with ACM

ACM wishes to ensure that markets function well for people and businesses. We invite everyone to share their ideas about the implementation of the ACM Agenda. Do you have any concrete tip-offs about a specific market that is not functioning properly, for example, because of unfair competition or misleading practices? Or do you have any suggestions for investigations related to our Agenda topics? If so, we would like to hear from you. You can share your knowledge, experiences and tip-offs with us via our social-media channels on LinkedIn , Twitter  and Facebook  or by sending an email to info@acm.nl.

More information about sending tip-offs to ACM

More information about ACM’s role and duties in Energy (in Dutch)

Press releases

Other publications