“In energy, all European countries are allies”

The coming two years, the Austrian DSO, Netz Niederösterreich, takes part in the DSO Chair of the Vlerick Energy Centre. For Werner Hengst, Managing Director of Netz NÖ, the open dialogue he has experienced with European colleagues is both refreshing and necessary, because “in energy, all European countries are allies”.

Werner Hengst (Netz Niederösterreich)“Netz NÖ builds and operates the electricity and gas networks in large parts of Lower Austria”, Werner Hengst explains. “My predecessor at Netz NÖ had pointed out to follow Professor Leonardo Meeus (currently heading the Vlerick Energy Centre), who was then teaching at the Florence School of Regulation. He told me about the international energy community of DSOs that he was shaping at Vlerick and that’s how I got in touch with Vlerick.”

“Fairly conservative”

In 2017, Werner took the Future Grid Managers Programme. “Before, Netz NÖ was mainly focused on the Austrian and some German players. The Austrian market is fairly safely. So it was fascinating to learn how other European DSOs approach their energy market. I was particularly struck by the open-minded discussions at the table and to learn how everybody is acting in their countries."

“I was struck by the open-mindedness of the other participants." Werner Hengst, Managing Director of Netz Niederösterreich

Sandboxes

That open discussion is the thread through all the activities within the DSO Chair, finds Werner: “During the workshop of 9 November we experimented with sandboxes on international regulation. That’s the kind of converging exercise that we, as European DSOs, need to do if we want to be prepared for the future. Because no matter what shape the energy landscape will take, all European countries are allies and will need to converge.”

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