Electricity aid to help Belgium through the cold winter months

Several of Belgium's nuclear reactors are currently offline due to defects or maintenance work. This means that the country might suffer a power shortage during the coldest months of the year. Under a new energy partnership, Germany has pledged to help.

Weltkugel bei Nacht mit Lichtermeer© BMWi/Susanne Eriksson

Germany and Belgium are deepening their cooperation on energy. Should Belgium experience a power shortage this winter, Germany will help. This is what Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Energy Peter Altmaier has promised the Belgian Minister of Energy, Marie-Christine Marghem. A Memorandum of Understanding on closer cooperation on energy was signed by the two Ministers in October, setting out specific measures to be taken in an emergency.

Said Minister Altmaier: "Together with other European partners we want to ensure that Belgium has a secure supply [of electricity]". France and the Netherlands have also pledged their support.

Belgium is preparing for eventual power shortages this winter, as several of its nuclear reactors are not currently in operation. For many years, the country has been having a national debate about whether to phase out nuclear power, which accounts for 54% of its energy mix.

Plans for an interconnector between Germany and Belgium

In the absence of a powerline connecting Germany and Belgium, electricity has to be taken via the Netherlands. A new direct interconnector capable of transporting 1,000 MW between the two countries is due to become operational in late 2019 or early 2020. A phase shifter is also part of the plan.

Germany produces more electricity than it actually needs, not least thanks to the expansion of renewables. In 2017, German power plant operators sold some 60 billion kilowatt hours to customers outside Germany, making the country Europe’s largest net exporter of electricity.