Belgium

In Belgium, the federal and regional governments share responsibility for energy policy. 

The basic legislation for each level is based on similar principles:

  • there is a legal separation between generation and sale on the one hand and system operation on the other; 
  • the transmission system operator holds a monopoly for the operation of their transmission or distribution networks coupled with strict rules of corporate governance; 
  • there is free access to the system at the approved and published tariffs;
  • the system is monitored by a regulator;
  • all of the governments have the power to lay down public service obligations with regard to the areas under their responsibility. As a result of these obligations, Elia, as the transmission system operator, must guarantee a minimum quality level for electricity at all levels and is required for instance to purchase green certificates at a minimum price level when legally defined conditions are met.

Federal level

The federal authorities are responsible for “matters which, on account of their technical and economic indivisibility, must be dealt with on an equal basis at national level”, in other words matters that need a coordinated approach at national level. This includes the transmission system operated by Elia, currently covering voltage levels from 70 kV to 380 kV.
 
Elia has a legal monopoly as Belgium’s transmission system operator. The licence to operate this monopoly is valid for a renewable period of 20 years. 

The basic legislation at federal level is as follows: the Act amending the Electricity Act of 29 April 1999 on the organisation of the electricity market (published in the Belgian Official Gazette on 8 January 2012), and the Royal Decree establishing a grid code governing operation of and access to the electricity transmission system.

 

Regional level

The regions are responsible for all aspects of the distribution of electricity and technical aspects of local transmission of electricity through grids with a nominal voltage of 70 kV or less.

All grids whose main purpose is to transport energy from the transmission grid to the distribution grid have been designated as such by the regional regulators:

  • local transmission system (in Wallonia);
  • regional transmission system (in the Brussels-Capital Region);
  • local transmission system (in Flanders).

Elia operates these systems.
 
The three regions are also responsible for renewable energy sources (excluding federally governed North Sea wind farms) and the rational use of energy (RUE).

The basic legislation for each region is as follows:


General requirements

The European Network Code on Demand Connection (DCC) and The European network on requirements for grid connection of generators (RfG) specify that network operators shall submit general implementation requirements to the competent regulatory authority for approval. 

In that context, Elia submitted proposals for application at regional level to the regional regulators on 17 May 2018. However, the general requirements for application at federal level were explicitly included in the Federal Grid Code (Royal Decree on technical regulations for the maintenance of the electricity transmission network and access to it of 22 April 2019, B.S.  29 April 2019). 

In addition, on 17 May 2018, according to the European Network Code RfG, Elia also submitted proposals for power thresholds for Power-generating modules, which classify generation units into types A, B, C and D. Power-generating modules are significant from Type B onwards. This means that they have to fulfil some additional obligations from the other network codes.

All these documents were approved by the regional regulators (CWaPE, Brugel & VREG).
 

Finally, Elia has also established two other sets of general requirements:

General requirements for grid connection of high voltage direct current systems and direct current-connected power park modules (HVDC).

These general requirements are already included in the Federal Grid Code of 22 April 2019, under Part 3, Book 1.

Please note that there is no legal obligation from the European grid codes for these specific requirements. However, Elia has chosen to develop these technical requirements in parallel with the aforementioned proposals for general requirements.

  • New versus existing:

    The new connection rules of the European Network Codes RfG and DCC apply, according to the codes, only to facilities that are considered new, with the exception of specific existing facilities as defined in those network codes. Article 4.2 of the codes allows for an expansion of the "existing facilities" category.

    In order to remove the uncertainty for investors as to which connection rules now apply to them, use was made, both at the federal and regional levels, of the option provided for in Article 4.2 of the RfG and DCC Network Codes to insert transitional regimes.

    At the federal level, a transitional measure was included in the Federal Grid Code (RD of 22 April 2019). Thus, a unit can be considered new if it meets 3 cumulative conditions. Namely, if the final and binding agreement for the purchase of, respectively, the main production component, the main consumption component, the consumption unit or the main production component or HVDC equipment is concluded no later than 27 April 2019. The conclusion of this purchase agreement must be notified to the competent system operator (as well as the transmission system operator) and an application for approval, accompanied by supporting documents, must be submitted to the federal regulator CREG.

    At regional level, in consultation between all the regional regulators, a transitional measure has been provided for. In concrete terms, this means that an installation will be considered new: 

    • In Flanders and Wallonia from 1 November 2019.
    • In Brussels as of 17 November 2019.
     
  • Decision new versus or existing:

    VREG

    CWaPE

    Brugel

    For more information on these decisions, please refer to the website of the competent regulators.

  • Derogations from network codes RfG/DCC/HVDC and drafting of deviation criteria:

    The regulator may grant general or specific derogations from the technical requirements of the network codes, including from the general application requirements through a specific procedure. It draws up deviation criteria for this purpose after a public consultation. 

    The four Belgian regulators (CREG / VREG / CWaPE / Brugel) use the same criteria and have issued a joint text. For more information, we refer to the websites of the regulators concerned.

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