The limit has been reached
“Limit reached? That really made us think…” Martijn Verschuren, Manager Business Development at H4A, had to make a quick adjustment when he was informed by the grid operator that H4A had reached the maximum possible with the recent expansion of its electricity infrastructure. Further expansion in the future is not possible. What does this mean for the company?
“At H4A, we consume a considerable amount of energy and have been working on sustainability for years,” explains Martijn. The company already has a maximum number of solar panels installed (420) and is actively preparing for 100% emission-free driving. “At the moment, 10% of our 200 passenger cars are electric, and we only purchase emission-free cars. Starting next year, we will also make our fleet of commercial vehicles more sustainable by purchasing our first electric vans. All these electric vehicles need to be charged, so we recently upgraded our infrastructure with 10 additional charging points for cars and other equipment.”
At that point, H4A received a signal from the grid operator: no problem with this upgrade, but it would be the last. Due to grid congestion, further upgrades will not be possible in the future. Martijn: “That makes you think, ‘oh… what now?’ We can manage with what we have for the next three to four years, but if we want an additional charging option for an electric truck in the future, that would be a problem.”
Also from a commercial perspective
Not only in light of the Climate Agreement does Martijn find it important to achieve zero-emission goals, but it is also an important aim from a commercial perspective. “Our clients are asking for it. You have an advantage when your company can carry out activities with zero emissions. However, I do not expect that we will be the only ones hitting the ceiling of available energy. The competitors will also suffer from this, both nationally and internationally. But it is an issue.”
Martijn finds it important to achieve zero-emission goals not only in light of the Climate Agreement, but it is also an important aim from a commercial perspective. “Our clients are asking for it. You have an advantage when your company can carry out activities with zero emissions. However, I do not expect that we will be the only ones hitting the ceiling of available energy. The competitors will also suffer from this, both nationally and internationally. But it is an issue.”
However, the size of the issue today is not entirely clear to Martijn. “You hear so little about it. It was a surprise to us when we found out. We don’t think we are asking for much with our number of charging points, and we don’t know how much space there actually is on the grid. Is the problem already acute, or is it not that bad? I hope that the Boost the Grid challenge will provide more transparency.”
Sitting back and waiting to see what the future brings is not something H4A plans to do. “Even before we were told that we had reached our limit, we were already exploring alternative possibilities for electric transport. Partly also because electric transport is not a suitable option for our heavier machines. The batteries simply aren’t strong enough. That’s why we have been investigating the possibilities of hydrogen for quite some time.”
Martijn expects a lot from this alternative. “Not just for us, but for everyone. Electric vehicles often drive during the day and are then charged en masse at the end of the working day. If everyone were to drive electrically, this would cause congestion problems. Hydrogen could be a possible solution.”
Electricity always preferred
Together with other major players in the region, H4A is also investigating solutions in that direction. “A hydrogen filling station for road transport and ships would be ideal. Then we can carry out our work emission-free without further burdening the electricity network. However, we will still want to drive mostly electric, as it is simply easier and cheaper. I also hope that the Boost the Grid challenge will yield good new solutions.”
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