ACM commissioned a study into technical problems in TES systems
Of the approximately 230 thermal-energy storage systems (TES systems) that provide heat to approximately 21,000 households in the Netherlands for their drinking water and heating needs, 200 of them work without any problems (or hardly any problems). This has been one of the findings of a study commissioned by the Netherlands Authority for Consumers and Markets (ACM). Operators of TES systems that were contacted by the researchers indicate that disruptions occur sometimes in 20 systems. Other than that, those systems work fine. Ten TES systems experience bigger problems. Most of these systems were built before 2013.
TES systems are systems where energy in the form of heat and cold is stored underground and used for heating and/or cooling buildings. ACM had the study into TES systems carried out in order to gain insight into the technical causes behind the problems with TES systems. In addition, ACM wished to know how many TES systems experienced problems. That is because ACM regularly receives complaints about disruptions in TES systems.
For some time now, ACM has been in contact with groups of users and with various suppliers of TES systems to get a picture of these problems. The study reveals where in the construction and commercial exploitation of these systems problems may occur. ACM can use those insights to tighten its oversight efforts, where necessary. ACM continues to urge suppliers to solve any problems as quickly as possible.
ACM finds it important that suppliers actively involve users in the search for solutions to any problems. That is why ACM will discuss the findings of this study with the groups of residents that have said they often experience problems with their TES systems. ACM will additionally examine whether the report can be used for the interpretation of the current standards regarding security of supply and service reliability.
The researchers have also put forward suggestions for strengthening the position of consumers, such as the use of smart meters, and ‘reversing the burden of proof’. Currently, consumers that file complaints about their supply of heat must demonstrate that their TES systems do not function properly. The Dutch Heat Act stipulates that heat suppliers must ensure high-quality heat and security of supply, but it does not stipulate what that actually means in practice. That ambiguity makes enforcement by ACM in real-world situations difficult. In 2021, ACM already drew lawmakers’ attention to the problems of these residents, and put forward recommendations for tightening the legislation with regard to the protection of residents that are connected to heat networks.
- 25-8-2022 Insights into TES systems (in Dutch)
- 8-10-2021 ACM has a technical study carried out into thermal-energy storage systems
- 27-7-2021 ACM draws attention to problems with older thermal-energy storage systems