Companies celebrate 10-year supply anniversary and take advantage of opportunity offered by liberalization
Aachen / Kassel. Stadtwerke Aachen Aktiengesellschaft (STAWAG) and the Kassel-based gas company WINGAS have celebrated the ten-year anniversary of their partnership. WINGAS has been supplying STAWAG with gas since 1 October 1999. Only a year after the energy markets were officially opened up, both companies were already taking advantage of liberalization. STAWAG currently obtains around a third of its gas from WINGAS.
In an increasingly competitive market where contracts between suppliers and municipal utility companies are being signed for ever shorter periods, the long-standing partnership between STAWAG and WINGAS is a perfect example of continuity. The reasons for this long and successful working relationship are obvious for both companies. After all, the partnership has been based on trust, openness and innovation ever since it began. Dr. Christian Becker, Managing Director of STAWAG, and Dr. Gerhard König, WINGAS Management Spokesman, stressed this on the occasion of the anniversary, stating that in spite of the initial problems ten years ago the two companies refused to give in and were among the first to take advantage of the opportunities offered by the gradual liberalization of the gas market.
The main difficulty at the beginning was transporting the gas to the customer. This problem was solved when the WEDAL long-distance gas pipeline was completed. The pipeline is currently operated by WINGAS TRANSPORT. Even the legal disputes between STAWAG and its old suppliers could not stand in the way of the partnership. In the years that followed, both companies systematically stepped up their working relationship. Greater flexibility as regards delivery quantities, prices and contractual periods, the use of gas storage facilities, the purchasing of wholesale quantities from international trading centers and the permanent transfer of skills played (and still play) an important role here.
However, the partnership is not limited to the supply and purchase of gas. Indeed, both companies are also involved in joint projects. The latest project involves testing a fuel cell for generating electricity and heat in a private household in Aachen. HEXIS, the manufacturer of the system, is also taking part. This pilot project represents a further milestone in the companies’ long-standing partnership. By carrying out the project, both companies have shown that they are committed to using innovative technologies and are keen to work together in opening up new markets in the future.
Dr. Christian Becker looks back: “Without a strong partner, we could never have restructured our business to allow such a broad gas portfolio. In the early stages of liberalization, both sides needed to remain flexible and embrace innovation. This was the only way to ensure a reliable supply of gas given the difficult conditions. However, this also provided a solid basis allowing us to take advantage of the increasing opportunities of market liberalization for the benefit of consumers.”
“As liberalization began, it was important for WINGAS to find a company which had the courage to break new ground,” added Dr. Gerhard König, WINGAS Management Spokesman. “We managed to overcome all the hurdles and grew together by sharing knowledge. Our long-standing partnership is a symbol of our mutual trust and common bond. I am confident that we will continue our partnership in the future and seize opportunities in the gas market which will benefit both our companies later on.”
Since 2000, STAWAG has been obtaining its gas not only from WINGAS but also from a number of other companies including Aachen-based Trianel GmbH, Germany’s leading municipal utility company partnership. STAWAG is one of Trianel’s “founding fathers” and is the company's second-largest shareholder. Over the course of the years, STAWAG has systematically taken steps to source its gas from a range of suppliers. To ensure maximum flexibility, the company currently obtains gas from four different suppliers as part of a highly diversified portfolio.
European energy provider WINGAS is active in natural gas trading and distribution in Germany, Belgium, France, Great Britain, Austria, the Czech Republic and Denmark. Its customers include municipal utilities, regional gas suppliers, industrial firms and power plants. Since 1990 WINGAS has invested more than 3 billion euros in the development of a natural gas transport and storage infrastructure. WINGAS TRANSPORT pipeline network, which is over 2,000 kilometers long, connects the major gas reserves in Siberia and in the North Sea to the growing markets in Western Europe. In Rehden in North Germany, WINGAS has the largest natural gas storage facility in Western Europe – with a working gas volume of over four billion cubic meters, and the company also participates in Central Europe's second largest storage facility in Haidach, Austria. Additional natural gas storage facilities are currently being built in Great Britain and Germany in order to secure the supply of natural gas in Europe.
STAWAG (Stadtwerke Aachen Aktiengesellschaft) is the municipal energy and water company in Aachen. Every day, it provides electricity, gas, district heating and drinking water for over 150,000 customers. It also operates the sewerage system on behalf of the City of Aachen. As a forward-looking company, STAWAG attaches great importance to sustainability. It therefore carries out a great deal of groundbreaking climatic and environmental work on both a regional and national level. STAWAG has been making greater use of district heating for many decades and has been committed to solar energy since the 1990s. However, it uses not only the sun, wind and water but also biomass as sources of renewable energy. It is also involved in the field of alternative propulsion systems. In 2003, it opened the first autogas filling station in Aachen and the surrounding district. In 2007, it opened the city’s first bio-ethanol filling station and set up various public electric charging stations in 2009.