Belgium at odds with the Netherlands over power plant plans
Tuesday, 05 November 2019
The Belgian federal minister for energy Marie Christine Marghem (MR) has received a letter from her Dutch counterpart Eric Wiebes, in which he is opposed to the Maasbracht (Netherlands) power station, currently shut down, being used in the future to supply Belgium alone with electricity, the daily De Morgen reported on Tuesday.
The power station has a 1,304 megawatt capacity, the equivalent of the amount consumed by three million domestic users, and is located near the Belgian-Dutch border at Maasbracht in the Netherlands. Its owner, the energy consortium RWE, and the Luxembourg company Nuhma have already given notice of their project to deploy an underground high-voltage power line to link the power station to the Belgian grid by 2020.
However, the project did not take into account the refusal of the Dutch government that in order to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions is planning to shut down its coal-fired power stations by 2030, and will therefore need alternatives to guarantee its security of supply, should solar or wind power be unavailable.
Belgium is looking to increase its capacity because of its planned closure of nuclear power stations in 2025. To compensate the need for extra electricity supplies, energy minister Marghem has set up a capacity compensation mechanism (CRM) that envisages a system for supporting gas-fired power stations so as to encourage their construction and guarantee uninterrupted electricity supply.
From 2021, private companies will be able to participate in public tenders.
The Maasbracht power station had figured prominently since it enjoyed an advantage over potential competitors who had still to build their own power stations. All that needed to be done was to link it to the Belgian grid.
“Maasbracht was an option for us, but only if it was linked exclusively to Belgium,” minister Marghem’s spokesperson commented. According to the latter, there will be talks with the Dutch minister Eric Wiebes.