A response to two major challenges
Challenge no. 1: Guarantee the future of our green energy generation
The East of the Province of Liège is an area particularly conducive to (and active in) the field of green energy generation. The grid can no longer accommodate extra generation (saturation proven).
Many projects have either not gotten off the ground or have not achieved optimum performance because the energy could not be delivered to the final consumer.
157 MW of connected generation currently compared to 182 MW in pending generation
By switching from 1x70 kV to 2x110kV, the East Loop upgrade project predominantly intends to accommodate renewable energy generated in the region.
Challenge no. 2: Guarantee grid reliability
The safety of the public and infrastructure as well as grid reliability are Elia's top priorities. When it comes to safety, Elia's policy is to provide infrastructure that is increasingly safe for both the public and the supply while respecting the environment.
To achieve this safety goal, checks (both within and outside Elia) are regularly conducted to gauge the exact condition of the facilities. The results of these checks are then used to determine whether repairs are required or, as in the case of the East Loop, plans should be made to replace certain parts of the line that are reaching (Step 2) or have reached (Step 1) the end of their service lives.
This is why Elia has decided to replace the entire existing line with new generation infrastructure that guarantees the safety and reliability of the grid while boosting the supply capacity.
A major project securing the energy transition
The East of the Province of Liège is an area particularly conducive to the generation of renewable energies; it is also experiencing a significant increase in its generation of decentralised energy (wind and solar power).
The existing grid has now reached saturation point, so it is crucial that the East Loop be upgraded and replaced in order to continue guaranteeing both the region's security of supply and the energy transition.
This extensive project was launched in 2015 and will be rolled out in several stages, which were approved by the Minister of Energy as part of the Federal Development Plans 2010-2015 and 2015-2025.
An exceptional project
Elia has entrenched this project at the heart of research and development, teaming up with Ronveaux to develop high-performance concrete pylons as an alternative to the lattice frameworks currently used.
The East Loop project is the first to use this type of support in Belgium.
The main advantage offered by these high-performance concrete pylons is that they take up less space.
Three composite pylons have also been erected in Bütgenbach.
By constructing these new generation supports, Elia is carving out a position in the field of technological excellence.
An asset for the landscape of the future
Once the restructuring work on the Liège grid is complete, the East Loop project will focus on removing the 171 pylons making up the Bévercé – Soiron – Romsée line, which is 34.4 km long and was erected in 1930.
A project comprising several steps
East Loop - Step 1
- East Loop - Step 2
- East Loop – Next Steps – The next steps of the project are still being studied
EAST LOOP - STEP 1
As the former 1x70 kV overhead line was built in 1966 and no longer satisfies the region's needs, Elia decided to invest €30 million in replacing and upgrading this overhead line, which connects the Bévercé, Amel and Bütgenbach substations (via the Stephanshof interconnection point) located in the municipalities of Malmedy, Bütgenbach, Waimes and Amel.
Elia has erected 82 pylons made of high-performance concrete, 8 corner and end lattice framework pylons and, for the first time, 3 composite pylons at Bütgenbach.
Work began on 1 June 2015 and lasted two and a half years.
The new 2X110 kV line follows the same route and was commissioned in December 2016.
The East Loop project – Step 1 in figures
Investment: €30 million
- Length of the line: 21 km
- Four municipalities involved: Waimes, Amel, Malmedy, Bütgenbach
- Number of supports: 93
- Average height of supports: 35 m
- Overhead line switched from one circuit to two circuits
- Voltage increased from 70 to 110 kV
- Residential area covered: 5%
Map of the route by municipality
||Lengthe of the line (km)
||Number of pylons before
||Number of pylons after
EAST LOOP - STEP 2
The second step in the extensive East Loop project involves replacing and upgrading the overhead line connecting the Bévercé (Malmedy), Bronrome, Trois-Ponts (Coo) and Brume sites located in the municipalities of Malmedy, Stoumont, Stavelot, Spa and Trois-Ponts.
- The current line between Bévercé and Bronrome was created in 1930 and is coming to the end of its service life.
The line between Bronrome and Trois-Ponts was erected in 1967 and is in good condition; however, it is a 70 kV line, meaning that a second circuit cannot be installed, although this is vital for the grid.
Between Trois-Ponts and Brume, Elia uses the existing pylons fitted with two 220-kV circuits (one circuit is currently running at 70 kV, the other is out of service).
Elia has proposed the following solution to deal with the challenges facing the region:
Upgrade to 2x110 kV and reconstruction in the same place as the current line.
Elia intends to invest €33 million in this project.
The East Loop project - step 2 in figures
- An investment of close to €33 million
The overhead line would switch from one circuit to two circuits
The line's power would rise from 70 kV to 110 kV
- 111 supports distributed as follows:
- Bévercé – Bronrome: 82 pylons
- Bronrome - Coo / Trois-Ponts: 26 pylons
- Trois-Ponts – Brume: 3 pylons
Average pylon height: 30 m
- Pylon types: high-performance concrete, lattice framework
- Areas covered:
- Residential: 3.6%
- Rural residential: 1%
- Agricultural: 48.5%
- Natura2000: 43.6%
A new line - the same route
The overhead line will be replaced and upgraded (as planned in East Loop Step 2) on the site of the current line. The project does not currently intend to change the route.
||Length of the line (km)
||Number of pylones before
||Number of pylones after
Throughout its project, Elia will ensure that it takes all necessary measures to limit the work's impact, maintain the residents' quality of life and preserve the environment
East Loop – Step 1
Works on East Loop– Step 1 began on 1 June 2015 and lasted two and a half years.
The new 2x110 kV line was commissioned in December 2016 as originally scheduled.
Work on upgrading the existing infrastructure linking the substations of Bévercé, Amel and Bütgenbach over a distance of 21 km (via the Stephanshof interconnection point) is now mostly complete.
Currently in its finishing phase (removal of access roads, site restoration, painting of lattice pylons, planting, etc.), the project will be fully completed in 2017.
The work ran smoothly and relations with residents and local authorities were excellent. As part of its projects and especially during work, Elia makes sure to proactively communicate with municipal authorities and the public with a view to forging partnerships with mayors and maintaining transparent communication links to all stakeholders.
East Loop - Step 2
Work in four steps
A seven-phase project
The project will comprise seven distinct stages for each of the aforementioned four sections.
- Lopping and clearance: Lopping/clearance may be required at some points along the route. This would be done in consultation with the land owners and operators.
- Creating access roads: Creating temporary access roads to the site was the first essential phase of the work.
The access roads will mainly be used to meet the project's one-off transport needs when work is under way. They will be approximately 6 metres wide and suitable for motor vehicles.
The techniques used to create access (steel plates or, if necessary, stone paths) ensure that the impact of the work was kept to a minimum in terms of dust creation and soil protection. Vehicles are not permitted on unprotected ground.
A kick-off survey is conducted with the owners/operators before the work begins.
- Dismantling old pylons: Conductors will be removed section by section and immediately rewound using pulling and breaking machines. The pylons will be dismantled and the foundations removed from the ground. They will then be taken away by lorry.
- Laying foundations: This involves digging at the location of the new pylons so that each pylon's concrete foundation can be poured. The new pylons will be buried 2 to 5 metres deep. The soil removed to create these foundations will be taken away by dump truck.
- Erecting new pylons: The new pylons will be transported by lorry up to 32 metres long and weighing 20 tonnes; the pylons are then positioned using a crane. The metal components at the top of the pylons (arms, pinnacles, etc.) are mounted using a bucket truck.
The last stage consists of pulling the cables from end to end so they can be attached to the metal crossarms. The lorries transporting the cables do not need to access every pylon; they work from several key locations.
Technical constraints permitting, the new pylons will be erected in the same places as the old ones.
- Clearing up the site: As soon as the project is finished, the temporary access roads will be dismantled and the land will be restored to its original state. A final survey will be conducted of the site area. All waste from the site will be collected and taken to an accredited waste processing centre.
- Developing biodiversity: Any vegetation removed to facilitate site access or to ensure the safety of the line will be subject to compensation measures.
Reseeding using herbaceous species is also planned at a suitable time. Some areas meriting particular attention in terms of biodiversity will be specially landscaped in accordance with the principles of the Life project (supported by the European authorities).
Security of the electricity supply
The electricity supply is secured throughout the project thanks to Elia's grid mesh system. This works as a motorway network, meaning that when work is being carried out on a line, it is possible to use secondary lines and continue the transmission of electricity and thus keep supplying households.