General information

The European interconnected grid allows electricity to be exchanged between different countries. You will find here further information about these exchanges.

General process

An ARP (Access Responsible Party) can import or export electricity via neighbouring countries. Here is how the process works:  

  1. The capacity available for import and export on Belgian interconnection (Belgium-Netherlands and Belgium-France) is determined based on safety and reliability criteria.
  2. The various allocation mechanisms are used to determine when (annually, monthly, daily and on an intraday basis) what capacity is allocated to the various ARPs and.
  3. When the ARP has acquired capacity via an explicit allocation mechanism, it must nominate or schedule the volumes it wishes to import and export: it must submit one nomination to the system operator of the exporting country and one to the system operator of the importing country or this nomination is done on its behalf. The system operators check that the details of the two nominations match up.

In the case of implicit capacity allocation, the ARP does not have to nominate its import or export itself. The clearing house of the power exchanges organises the cross-border shipping.


Annual and monthly capacity

Annual and monthly capacity is allocated by means of explicit auctions. At such auctions, the ARP can set the price for the import or export regarding a specific bidding zone border for a certain volume (in MW) of power for each hour of the year or month in question through the acquiring of long term transmission rights.

The European system operators have created shared rules governing the explicit auctions for allocating annual and monthly capacity. These auctions are organised through a joint company, JAO.

Capacity Allocations for the delivery period as from 1st January 2016: Rules for capacity allocation by explicit auctions

Further practical information can be found on the JAO website.


Daily capacity

Daily capacity is allocated to market players through an implicit allocation mechanism. The power exchanges organise this by means of market coupling.

Market coupling helps to promote:

  • better market liquidity;
  • integration of the European energy market;
  • efficient management of cross-border capacity;
  • fair market access.

Between November 2006 and November 2010, the market coupling was applied for the first time between France, Belgium and The Netherlands (trilateral coupling or TLC). Since 9 November 2010 (delivery date of November 10th), the day-ahead (ATC-based) market coupling has been operational throughout the whole CWE region (Central West Europe, including France, Belgium, Luxemburg, The Netherlands and Germany). To this end, the Belgian, French, German and Dutch transmission system operators work with the power exchanges Belpex (Belgium), APX- (The Netherlands) and EPEX Spot (Germany and France). Since 4 February 2014 (delivery date of February 5th), this day-ahead market coupling has been extended to the NWE region (North West Europe), meaning including as well Norway, Sweden, Finland, Denmark and Great Britain. The Nordic countries operate with NordPoolSpot (NPS) as power exchange, and Great Britain sees its market split between two power exchanges: APX and NPS. (The market coupling performed at the NWE level replaces the ITVC solution used by CWE and Nordic that has been put in place since 9 November 2010). The new price coupling of the NWE region is operated by the underlying power exchanges, through the PCR (Price Coupling of Regions) solution. While NWE was the first region to implement the PCR solution, South Western Europe (SWE) was synchronised with the new system from the go-live date of February 4th 2014, using PCR too. For the time being the daily explicit auction at the France-Spain border will be maintained as it is, with the intention to move to implicit allocation in the near future (May 2014).

This implicit allocation mechanism is described in the product sheet and in the following documents: 

MRC market coupling:

  • Day-Ahead Multi-Regional Coupling: update of fallback cases (24 January 2017)
    • On the 24th of January EPEX launched a mechanism to enable CWE or CWE-BritNed Regional Coupling in case of a declared MRC Full Decoupling
    • The detailed procedures on “delay and fallback” cases can be found under the download section of the EPEX website.

NWE market coupling:

CWE market coupling:

In the exceptional case that the market coupling mechanism is unavailable, explicit daily auctions will be organized by the joint auction office JAO, as described in the harmonized auction rules.


Intraday capacity 

The system operators on Belgium’s borders also offer capacity that can be used almost immediately. This is known as ‘intraday capacity’. Intraday capacity is allocated at 24 set times per day.

Elia and RTE, in cooperation with the power exchanges EPEX Spot/EPEX Spot Belgium and Nord Pool, have set up a mechanism for the allocation of intraday capacity on the Belgium-France interconnection.

Elia and TenneT, in cooperation with the power exchanges EPEX SPOT/EPEX SPOT Belgium and Nord Pool, have set up a mechanism for the allocation of intraday capacity on the Belgium-Netherlands interconnection.

As of 12th of June 2018 with first delivery 13th of June 2018, the intraday cross-border capacity is allocated via an implicit mechanism based on continuous trading on the intraday markets of EPEX SPOT/EPEX SPOT Belgium and Nord Pool by means of their local trading platforms.

More information on the system is provided in the following documents: