The surplus of electricity produced in the North of Germany that is then sent to the South goes through high-tension lines in neighbouring countries, including Belgium. These so-called “loop flows” can cause problems as the high-tension lines can only be used once. If these lines have already been used to transport German electricity, neighbouring countries cannot use them to import electricity for themselves, De Morgen reported on Saturday.
The German high-tension network is not designed to carry the large quantities of electricity produced by the windfarms in the North Sea and the Ruhr valley coal-powered plants. Their own network is saturated and these “loop-flows” are a possible solution, so the Germans are using their neighbour’s networks. As well as Belgium, the Netherlands, France, Poland, the Czech Republic, Slovakia and Hungary are also being affected by this issue.
Germany has been sending 1,000 megawatts through the Belgian network almost constantly. The quantity is often double that when the windfarms are at maximum capacity.
The Belgian energy market regulator, CREG, has already drawn attention to the problem. As Belgium is now relying on just one nuclear plant, resolving the issue has become urgent. The Energy Minister Marie Christine Marghem is aware of the situation, but can’t do much about it. It’s up to Europe to do something. CREG sent a report to the European Competition Commission at the start of this year, but nothing has been done yet.