Boucle de l’Est
Upgrading the Boucle de l’Est from a 1 x 70 kV line to a 2 x 110 kV line in the east of the Province of Liège.
A project for the future
This huge project was launched in 2015 and is being rolled out in several phases, which were approved by the Minister of Energy as part of the Federal Development Plans for 2010-2015 and 2015-2025.
- Boucle de l’Est – Phase 1
- Boucle de l’Est – Phase 2
- Boucle de l’Est – Next steps – The next phases of the project are currently being studied.
In the interest of society
The Boucle de l’Est project is a response to two major challenges:
- Challenge no.1: Securing the future of green energy generation in Belgium
The east of the Province of Liège is both highly suited to green energy generation and very active in that field. However, the grid is saturated and cannot accommodate any additional generation.
Many projects have either not gotten off the ground or have not achieved their full potential because the energy could not be delivered to the final consumer.
- 157 MW in generation capacity is currently connected to the grid, while 182 MW is awaiting construction or connection
By upgrading the connection from a 1 x 70 kV line to a 2 x 110 kV line, the Boucle de l’Est project sets out to accommodate renewable energy generated in the region and ensure a successful energy transition.
- Challenge no. 2: Guaranteeing grid reliability
The safety of people and infrastructure and the reliability of the grid are Elia’s top priorities. Elia’s safety policy consists of providing infrastructure that is ever safer for the public and ever more reliable in terms of supply, while also respecting the environment.
With this objective in mind, checks are regularly conducted, both by Elia and by external organisations, to assess 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 Boucle de l’Est, plans should be made to replace certain parts of the line that are reaching (Phase 2) or have reached (Phase 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.
- Challenge no.1: Securing the future of green energy generation in Belgium
Elia is deeply committed to respecting the environment and protecting it sustainably. With that in mind, it implements innovative solutions geared towards minimising the impact of its activities. Specific actions have been undertaken for each phase of the project.
Consequently, once restructuring work on the province’s grid is complete, the Boucle de l’Est project will have enabled the removal of 171 pylons from the line linking Bévercé, Soiron and Romsée, which is 34.4 km long and was erected in 1930.
The best technologyElia has made this project a focus of research and development, teaming up with Ronveaux to develop high-performance concrete pylons as an alternative to the steel-lattice pylons currently used. The Boucle de l’Est project is the first to use this type of pylon 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 installing these new-generation pylons, Elia is underlining its commitment to technological excellence.
Boucle de l’Est – Phase 1As the old 1 x 70 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 the connection, which links the Bévercé, Amel and Bütgenbach substations (via the Stephanshof interconnection point) located in the municipalities of Malmedy, Bütgenbach, Waimes and Amel.
Phase 1 in figures
- Length of the line: 21 km
- Four municipalities affected: Waimes, Amel, Malmedy and Bütgenbach
- Number of pylons: 93
- Average pylon height: 35 m
- Overhead line switched from one circuit to two
- Voltage increased from 70 to 110 kV
- Areas crossed: 5% residential
Elia has erected 82 pylons made of high-performance concrete and 8 corner and end lattice-framework pylons, as well as installing Belgium’s first 3 composite pylons at Bütgenbach.
The new line follows the same route as the old one.
Map of the route by municipality:
Municipality Length of line (km) Number of pylons before Number of pylons after Waimes 8.89 39 36 Amblève 4.83 21 20 Malmedy 4.02 20 20 Bütgenbach 2.97 14 17
ScheduleWork began on 1 June 2015 and lasted two and a half years. The new 2 x 110 kV line was commissioned in December 2016.
Boucle de l’Est – Phase 2The second phase of the vast Boucle de l’Est project entails replacing and upgrading the 2 x 110 kV overhead line connecting the Bévercé (Malmedy), Bronrome, Trois-Ponts (Coo) and Brume sites in the municipalities of Malmedy, Stoumont, Stavelot, Spa and Trois-Ponts.
- The current Bévercé – Bronrome line was built in 1930 and is nearing the end of its service life.
- The line between Bronrome and Trois-Ponts was erected in 1967 and is in good condition. However, since it is a 70 kV line, the second circuit sorely needed by the grid cannot be installed on it.
- Between Trois-Ponts and Brume, Elia is using the existing pylons, which are fitted with two 220 kV circuits (one of which is currently running at 70 kV, while the other is out of service).
Phase 2 in figures
- Investment: almost €33 million
- Overhead line to switch from one circuit to two
- Line power to increase from 70 kV to 110 kV
- 111 pylons to be distributed along the line as follows:
o Bévercé – Bronrome : 82 pylons
o Bronrome – Coo/Trois-Ponts: 26 pylons
o Trois-Ponts – Brume: 3 pylons
- Average pylon height: 30 m
- Pylon types: high-performance concrete; steel-lattice
- Areas crossed:
o Residential: 3.6%
o Rural residential: 1%
o Agricultural: 48.5%
o Natura 2000: 43.6%
Phase 2 of the Boucle de l’Est project will entail replacing and upgrading the overhead line on the site of the current connection. There are no plans to change the route at present.
Map of the route by municipality
Municipality Length of the line (km) Number of pylons Malmedy 1.8 10 Spa 0.7 2 Stoumont 12.7 56 Stavelot 7.7 35 Trois-Ponts 2.2 8
EnvironmentElia has taken a number of environmental measures as part of Phase 2 of the Boucle de l’Est project:
StudiesWhile Phase 2 of the Boucle de l’Est project does not meet the criteria for a mandatory Environmental Impact Study, Elia decided to have an Environmental Impact Assessment Report (“NEIE” in French) and an Appropriate Impact Assessment (“EAI” in French) prepared by a firm approved by the Walloon Region in order to gauge the project’s effects on the environment.In addition to these two studies, Elia commissioned two supplementary analyses aimed at limiting the environmental impact of:
- site traffic – study conducted by Van Egdom, a company specialising in the transportation of abnormal loads. Van Egdom was tasked with determining the best possible route for transporting the pylons, bearing in mind the technical constraints linked to the size of the convoy and the roads to be used;
- access roads – study conducted by Bodarwé, a company specialising in road works, analysing how best to create access roads in the wettest parts of the Fagne fenland to limit damage to the ecosystem.
Fostering biodiversityElia’s concern for the environment led it to adopt the Life philosophy and fund projects to restore and enhance the natural areas along the route.Following the associated feasibility study conducted by the non-profit Solon, an eco-corridor could be developed on an 8-km stretch between Francorchamps and Bronrome, located between pylons P41 and P82.As part of this project, Elia will concentrate on creating wooded verges, moors, peat bogs and ponds in the areas under study with a view to augmenting their natural value.Elia plans to undertake this work in partnership with local companies.
Bird flight divertersSince the area concerned is of high ornithological value, Elia commissioned Natagora to conduct an expert study. Based on the study’s findings, Elia intends to fit bird flight diverters on three sections of the line:
All in all, around 9.8 km of the line will be kitted out with bird flight diverters.
- One section between Bronrome and Trois-Ponts: approx. 2 km
- Two sections between Bévercé and Bronrome: approx. 7.8 km
Hunting and nesting seasonsElia maintains regular contact with landowners in this regard to take into account the hunting seasons.Elia also undertakes to avoid disrupting nesting periods: when nesting season is under way, Elia avoids engaging in major work that could disturb nesting birds.Elia has performed the lopping and clearance work taking into account the nesting period of the region’s birds.
ScheduleWork on the Eastern Loop - step 2 project has been underway since the end of 2019.
The project was halted during the containment due to the health situation of COVID-19 in March-April 2020, but work has resumed and is now continuing.
Thus, the Bevervée - Bronrome section will extend over the years 2020-2021 and the Bronrome - Trois-Pontes section over 2022-2023.
When the various sections are completed, the line will be re-energised from a voltage level of 70 to 110 kV.
Key project documents
25 May 2021
A landscape/biodiversity fund for 28 projects and landscape planning
On 25 May, Elia and Ecofirst (an environmental and biodiversity-oriented cooperative) presented the 28 projects chosen by the towns and cities affected by the East Loop project. These projects will be implemented thanks to the landscape/biodiversity fund allocated by Elia to the various municipal authorities.
01 February 2021
Resumption of work on 1 February
In December, we announced that the Boucle de l’Est line would be re-energised so that the grid would be able to cope with the peak electricity transmission we see every winter.
20 January 2021
Elia and Be Planet present 13 selected projects on 19 January
If you are affected by a project and want to ask us something, please feel free to contact us.
Our team would be happy to help.