Elia and TenneT are striving to upgrade electricity transmission between Belgium and the Netherlands


19-10-2016

The Belgian and Dutch transmission system operators are working together to increase import and export capacities at the cross-border HV lines between the two countries. Substantially enhancing these interconnections will help to integrate renewable energy and the European electricity market, and also increase security of supply.

  • TenneT and Elia see opportunities for significantly boosting transmission capacity in 2022
  • They believe that the best way to boost capacity is by optimising existing high-voltage connections
  • This expansion will mark a new step forward in the ongoing integration of North-West European energy markets

Strengthening cross-border interconnections is also in line with the bilateral cooperation agreement signed by the Belgian and Dutch energy ministers in April 2016. One aim of this ‘Politieke Verklaring inzake Energiesamenwerking tussen Nederland en België’ is to make better use of interconnections and maybe expand them. The same aim was set in Belgium's 2015-2025 federal development plan (approved by Minister of Energy, Marie Christine Marghem in November 2015).

New technologies using existing infrastructure

Elia and TenneT believe that the best way to upgrade electricity transmission is by optimising existing connections. This can be achieved by using technological innovations like phase shifters* and so-called high-temperature low-sag conductors (HTLS)**. A potentially suitable route for this will be identified by the end of 2016.

Meanwhile, the previously agreed and approved upgrade of the high-voltage grid to boost cross-border electricity transmission between Belgium and the Netherlands will be implemented as planned, namely via the Brabo project in Belgium and the ZuidWest380kV project in the Netherlands.

Market integration

When the aforementioned projects have been completed, the increased interconnection capacity will be made available to the various market operators, among other things via the day-ahead flow-based market-coupling mechanism in operation since May 2015. Initiatives like these within the Central West Europe (CWE) Region enable better use to be made of available trading capacity via interconnections.

Elia and TenneT support the continued optimisation of the flow-based market-coupling mechanism that was also anticipated in the bilateral cooperation agreement between Belgium and the Netherlands. As well as increasing security of supply, stronger market coupling will prompt greater convergence between electricity prices in the participating countries.

In addition to the aforementioned ongoing improvements to day-ahead market integration and in the run-up to the pan-European XBID project, Elia and TenneT have teamed up with French system operator RTE and the EPEX power exchange to continue the efforts to integrate their intraday markets. As a result, since early October there has been an integrated intraday market between Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Switzerland, where electricity can be traded up to one hour before delivery. These additional trading opportunities are an important instrument for the further integration of intermittently generated renewable energy.

Lastly, Elia and TenneT are also cooperating closely on the integration of balancing markets. Together with the Austrian and German system operators, a detailed study was conducted on how national balancing markets could be coupled and which (market) technical challenges would arise (the Explore project). The outcome of this intense cooperation, which will be published very soon, will be an important building block for the future implementation of coupled balancing markets.

* Phase shifters regulate both the magnitude and direction of power flows, enabling a better spread of energy throughout the grid. This more efficient use of cross-border capacity will make the grid more reliable.
** The use of new materials in HTLS conductors doubles transmission capacity.