Mercator - Horta

August 2019

Upgraded 380-kV Mercator-Horta line commissioned

The Mercator-Horta high-voltage line was put back in operation on 14 August. This is good news, not just for our country's security of supply, but also for Belgian and European economic development!

Over the past few years, Elia has been upgrading this 380-kV line between Zomergem and Kruibeke. The pylons and foundations of this line, which dates back to the 1970s, have been improved in order to increase its transmission capacity but also to connect the first wave of offshore wind farms to the grid.

A few finishing touches in the months ahead

Now that the last conductors have been installed, the high-voltage line between Zomergem and Kruibeke can be commissioned. The next few months will see a few finishing touches, minor repairs and some clearing up, with all work set to be completed by the end of 2019.



October 2018

Elia gives guest talk on ElectriCity at primary school in Temse

On 18 October, a number of colleagues gave a guest talk on energy at Hollebeek Free Primary School in Temse. Many pupils see the work being done on the Mercator-Horta project every day, so this provided an ideal opportunity to give a talk on the subject.

Using the ElectriCity game that Elia launched last year, the pupils were able to learn about energy in a fun way, including about the energy transition and how to cope with the challenges involved in expanding the high-voltage grid.

The Mercator-Horta project and associated reinforcement of the overhead line were also presented in detail during the talk. 

September 2018

Elia uses wooden structures during work on the lines

Elia is currently replacing the conductors on the section of the 380-kV high-voltage Mercator-Horta line between Ghent and Kruibeke. The conductors are being replaced by a new type of conductor that can transmit more energy. The old conductors must be removed before the new ones are installed. There is a risk here that the cables will sag too much so, to guarantee safety, wooden frames are being erected along roads (see photo) to ensure that the conductors always remain at a safe height. Wooden frames may be used in the same location on two separate occasions during the works, as there are conductors on both the left and the right of high-voltage pylons and they all need to be replaced. As such, the frames will be erected a second time once winter is over. They will be dismantled after the old conductors have been removed and replaced.

Elia will keep you informed of the project's progress via a digital newsletter.
If you want to receive this newsletter, sign up via the Contact tab.
Your details will then be added to the mailing list.

The project 

The axis from Mercator to Horta is an overhead high-voltage line going from Kruibeke (high-voltage substation Mercator) to Zomergem (substation Horta) over a distance of 49km.

The line lies entirely within the province of East Flanders and crosses 12 municipalities:
  • Zomergem, Lovendegem, Waarschot, Evergem, Ghent, Lochristi, Moerbeke, Lokeren, Sint-Niklaas, Waasmunster, Temse and Kruibeke.



The Mercator-Horta line is an overhead high-voltage line built in the 1970s. It is essential that the conductors of the Mercator-Horta line are replaced and strengthened, for three reasons:

  1. Higher import capacity, good for security of supply
    Strengthening the Mercator-Horta axis makes it possible to import more electricity from abroad. That is good for security of supply and economic development in Europe and Belgium.
  2. Integration of renewable energy
    The increased capacity will also make it possible to connect new generation units to the grid. The Mercator-Horta axis is very important, for example, for the new offshore wind farms.
  3. Evolution towards a European energy market
    Elia’s investments have been considered in a European context. Europe is asking its Member States to provide sufficient transmission capacity to and from abroad to improve international trade opportunities and make the energy price more competitive.




The applications for a planning permit, a declaration of public utility and a highway permit have now been submitted to the Permit Coordination and Facilitation Committee's one-stop shop. A public consultation on these applications is currently running in the affected towns and municipalities.


The first step in the permit process is an environmental impact report (“project-MER”). This examines the various environmental impacts on landscape, man and nature and the environment, both for the works and for the operational phase. The complete list of environmental impacts that are investigated can be found in the “notification document on the project-MER to replace conductors from Mercator to Horta”. This document is available for consultation from Elia ( or +32 3 640 07 22), the MER department of the Flemish government and the municipalities located in the project area:

  • Zomergem, Lovendegem, Waarschot, Evergem, Ghent, Lochristi, Moerbeke, Lokeren, Sint-Niklaas, Waasmunster, Temse and Kruibeke.
  • You can also consult the notification file on the website of the MER department of the Flemish government (in Dutch) using the file number (file number=2240).

Next steps

Once the necessary investigations have been carried out, an application for a planning permit is made to the Flemish government. The planning officers in the relevant provinces will obtain the opinion of the bodies concerned and organise a public consultation. The procedure for the highway permit and for a declaration of public utility will run in parallel with the procedure for the planning permit. A public consultation will take place while this procedure is ongoing. Work is scheduled to begin from 2017 on.


The axis from Mercator to Horta is an overhead high-voltage line that was built in the 1970s and crosses 12 municipalities over a distance of 49 km.

Elia will carry out three jobs on the line:

  • Replace conductors
    The classic AMS conductors (Aluminium-Magnesium-Silicon) will be replaced by high-performance HTLS conductors (High Temperature Low Sag). This latter type has a higher transport capacity and sags less.
  • Investigate and where necessary reinforce pylons and foundations
    There are various types of pylon on the Mercator-Horta line. Elia will investigate whether these pylons need replacing or reinforcing. The foundations will also be checked and where necessary reinforced.
  • Modifications to Mercator high-voltage substation
    The necessary modifications to the switching equipment will be made at the Mercator high-voltage substation in Kruibeke.

Take a closer look at the works here.


Contact us:

You can also sign up for the electronic newsletter (in Dutch) providing regular updates on the project’s progress :

Elia will not use your personal information for a different purpose than the one stated when you provided your data.