Substantial modernisation

Substantial modernisation takes place when, based on the assessment criteria defined by Elia, the intended changes to an installation that is considered to be existing are deemed to be sufficiently major to require full or partial compliance as is applicable on installations that are considered to be new.

The evaluation criteria for substantial modernization are defined by Elia in conformity with the Code of conduct and the European network codes and are published on the website of Elia. 

As an example and not exhaustive, if a grid user would like to add an electricity production unit to an existing unit, would like to adapt an existing electricity production unit or would like to renew parts of an electricity production unit or demand facility, it is possible, based on the applicable criteria that a substantial modernization of the electricity production unit of demand facility comes into force.


Legal framework

European Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/631 of 14 April 2016 establishing a network code on requirements for grid connection of generators (European Network Code RfG) and European Commission Regulation (EU) 2016/1388 of 17 August 2016 establishing a Network Code on Demand Connection (European Network Code DCC) define the requirements for the connection of new electricity generation facilities and consumer facilities. These requirements are included in the Royal Decree on the Federal Grid Code and in the decisions of the regulators VREG, CWaPE and BRUGEL on the general application requirements.

Article 4.1, a) of the European Network Codes RfG and DCC states that the requirements of these European Network Codes apply to generation and consumption installations that are considered as existing installations in the case of modernisation. At federal level, Article 4.1 of the European Grid Codes RfG and DCC are implemented in articles 71, §1, 1°, 161, 162 and 163 of the Royal Decree on Federal Technical Regulations.

In accordance with article 162(2) of the Royal Decree on Technical Regulations, Elia has drawn up guidelines on the definition and application of substantial modernisation. These have been the subject of a public consultation and extensive discussions with the market parties. These guidelines were then submitted for the advice of CREG and the DG Energy of the FPS Economy. At regional level,

  • In Flanders, article 4.1 of the European grid codes RfG and DCC has been implemented in the Technical Regulations Local Transport Network of Electricity in Articles III. 3.1.3 and III. 3.1.4 for consumer installations and in articles III.3.2.2 and III.3.2.3 for electricity production units.
  • In Wallonia and Brussels, Article 4.1 of the European Network Codes RfG and DCC applies to the local and regional transmission system respectively.

For this reason, Elia has also drawn up guidelines applicable at regional level, including the definition of a substantial modernisation, the criteria for a substantial modernisation of an electricity generation unit or a consumption unit and an application procedure. These guidelines were also the subject of a public consultation and were discussed in detail with market parties. These guidelines were then submitted to VREG for approval and to the CWaPE and BRUGEL just for information. Based on these guidelines, Elia will analyse whether the modifications made to an existing electricity generation or consumption facility constitute a substantial modernisation and will issue an opinion on the matter to the competent regulator. Ultimately, the regulator will decide whether the modernisation is substantial and, taking into account the criteria proposed by Elia, will set the requirements for new facilities that the existing facility being modernised must meet.

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