Reducing greenhouse gas emissions

Elia is involved in the development of renewable energy and takes concrete measures to limit CO2 emissions in its own facilities.

Involvement in developing renewable energy

Elia is actively involved in the development of renewable energy in the following ways:

  • connecting renewable energy generation units to the Elia grid, in particular the North Sea wind farms. Elia has set out a vision for the development of a high-voltage grid in the North Sea under optimum conditions for all the stakeholders involved;
  • taking part in innovative projects and in associations such as ‘Friends of the Supergrid’, which promotes the creation of a major European grid (a supergrid) as a solution for facilitating the circulation and exchange of renewable energy between generator countries, or the Renewables-Grid-Initiative (RGI)


Carbon balance

Elia also takes concrete measures to limit the CO2 emissions created by its own activities. For example, Elia assessed its greenhouse gas emissions using the French ‘Bilan Carbone ©’ method.

To be as comprehensive as possible, all emissions, including grid losses, were analysed. ‘Grid losses’ means all the electricity that is dissipated while passing through the high-voltage grid. Such losses are unavoidable because the transformers and conductors (cables and lines) heat up when electricity passes through them. In this way some of this electricity is lost and is transformed into heat. However, since for the most part grid losses are uncontrollable (they mainly depend on the amount of electricity passing through the Elia grid), they are not included in the table below. 

The overall figures are given in the table below:

Emission source (general)

Emissions (tonnes of equivalent CO2)

Percentage of total emissions

Energy in buildings (gas, electricity)



SF6 and refrigeration gases



Annual procurement



Trips made by staff and visitors






Fixed assets








The aim of using Bilan Carbone© is to draft an action plan that will enable CO2 emissions to be reduced, a process which is currently going on at Elia. The identified strategies will affect both direct emissions (emissions which are easier for the company to handle, such as staff transport and energy consumption in Elia buildings), and indirect emissions. 

Elia’s management has set a target of reducing direct emissions by 25% by 2016. This target will be assessed and, if need be, revised upwards after Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) have been put in place which will allow Elia to monitor the impact of the measures taken and the adoption of the action plan. Moreover, a number of projects aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions are already underway so that Elia can take quick action to deal with its direct emissions (see below). 

Objectives and KPIs will also be established for indirect emissions, even though these are much more difficult to influence. 


Reducing energy consumption in our buildings

Administrative buildings

Energy audits have already been carried out in a number of existing administrative buildings and Elia high-voltage substations. Action plans have been drawn up and have already been implemented on three of Elia's ten sites.

Elia’s two newest administrative buildings were constructed according to the principles of sustainable construction. Indeed, the building housing the National Control Centre has been labelled ‘exemplary building’ by the Brussels Institute for Management of the Environment (IBGE/BIM).

Construction of Elia's new administrative building began in October 2011 and takes the principles of sustainable construction even further. Not only should the building (as a passive building) save a lot of energy, but it should also be awarded the ‘Very Good’ rating by BREEAM (Building Research Establishment Assessment Method, a method used to assess the environmental performance of buildings).
This rating is awarded to buildings which are healthy to live or work in, have low levels of grey energy (energy necessary for the life cycle of material or a product from production to recycling), do not consume much water and where land is developed in a way which respects biodiversity.  

High-voltage substations

A new automatic system for switching heating on and off operated via mobile phone has been installed in 25 of our 600 high-voltage substations to reduce heating consumption. This system means that substations will be warm enough when staff arrive but keep the level of heating down when nobody is in the building. 


Intelligent mobility for Elia staff

Elia launched a mobility improvement plan in November 2011. It covers a wide range of actions intended to facilitate trips made by employees, including both commuting and travel during working hours. These actions include the lending of bikes for journeys between railway stations and the workplace, the promotion of transit offices enabling employees to work close to home, the promotion of teleconferencing tools, the provision of electric vehicles and pool cars, and other measures. 


Priority given to green procurement

Elia’s Purchasing and Environmental Departments now include ecological criteria in new calls for tenders, since purchasing more sustainable products is actually a major driver for action for companies wanting to reduce their impact on the environment.  

By including ecological criteria in its invitations to tenders, Elia encourages industrial players to be more responsible in their production activities. 

In addition to price and safety, Elia uses respect for the environment as a criterion for selecting suppliers. This includes the supplier’s environmental policy, how much energy the product consumes throughout its service life, transparency in describing what the products contain, and so on. 

To this end, a Green Procurement policy has been introduced.