Grid operator Elia warns of possible electricity surplus this summer

Grid operator Elia has warned the energy market to be vigilant this summer, as there is a possibility that Belgium's grid will produce too much electricity. As a last resort, it may even have to shut down large solar farms to protect the grid.

In Belgium, all available nuclear power plants are operating and a lot of solar panels have been added this year, bringing the total installed solar panel capacity to 10 gigawatts. This can lead to a situation where at times of high supply - a sunny day with wind - and low demand - the weekend when few plants are running - there could be a surplus of electricity that needs to be eliminated to protect the grid.

These surpluses could be very large, warns Elia, and a high export requirement of up to 7.5GW could arise in the summer. Elia puts the probability of this happening during summer weekends at 25 per cent.

Inflexible power grid

Elia is calling on the market to be "vigilant". In particular, the big players must redress the balance, for example by shutting down power generation or increasing consumption.

If the market cannot restore balance on its own, Elia will intervene, for example by shutting down large offshore wind farms. This happens quite often. Elia can also contact grid operators in neighbouring countries to send the extra electricity abroad.

In exceptional circumstances, Elia may even be forced to shut down large solar or onshore wind farms, an actio that has never been taken before. Without this intervention, the excess power could damage the grid. In the worst case, it could cause an increase in frequency on the European grid, threatening its stability.

Elia has long argued for a much more flexible electricity grid. When there is a surplus of electricity, for example, people would be encouraged to charge their electric cars.



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