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Germany, Belgium sign energy security deal for winter

Power

16 Oct 2018 13:23

Photo: Engie

Photo: Engie

Bonn

16 Oct 2018 13:23

(Montel) Germany and Belgium signed a deal in Berlin on Tuesday to secure Belgian power supply amid concerns the country could see blackouts this winter due to troubles at its nuclear plants.

“We are convinced France, Germany and the Netherlands have enough generation capacity this winter to balance any shortfalls in Belgian supply,” German energy minister Peter Altmaier told a joint press conference with his Belgian counterpart, Marie-Christine Marghem.

“We are determined to ensure the energy supply is secure at any given moment. We have agreed concrete measures together with Belgium and the network operators and will work hard in the following days to implement and extend them,” he added. 

One of these measures included a guarantee to ensure at least 20% of cross-border transmission capacity remained available for commercial trading between Austria, Belgium, Germany, France, Luxembourg, the Netherlands and Switzerland. 

Loop-flow deal
Germany does not share a common power line connection with Belgium, though German electricity can flood transmission cables via Holland during times of high wind generation.  

These so-called loop flows ended up saturating the physical capacity of power lines and disrupted Belgian energy security, Marghem said.

In the past, these flows have prevented commercial flows across borders entirely, leading to localised energy shortages and price spikes. 

The threat is especially acute this winter given Belgians may become reliant on power imports with six of the country’s seven nuclear reactors undergoing inspection or maintenance work.

“We have the guarantee from Germany that the power will arrive in Belgium if we need it,” Marghem said. 

Loop-flows tend to emerge on Germany’s borders on windy days due to insufficient domestic grid infrastructure to transmit wind energy to the country’s south. Altmaier said Germany was committed to gradually eliminating them. 

The two ministers additionally hoped the completion of a 1,000 MW power line connection between their countries by early 2020 would improve energy security from next winter. 

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