The threat of power cuts hangs over France in the event of a harsh winter. Scheduled and targeted “load shedding” cuts to relieve the network that fuel controversy, fears and fake news. Faced with the panic, President Emmanuel Macron intervened himself to reassure the population, assuring that we “would survive the winter” by reducing our consumption by 10%. And if the solution, at least a part, came from Belgium? Strengthening the electrical interconnection between France and its northern neighbor could save us from the worst.
The interconnection of the electricity networks of France and Belgium is not new since the electric line between the high voltage stations of Avelin (France) and Avelgem (Belgium) was laid in the 1970s. What is new is the exchange capacity between the two countries, which has been doubled since Friday on this line which connects the networks of RTE and Elia. Technically, we went from 3 to 6 gigawatts.
The idea is to be able to accommodate new electricity production, in particular wind turbines, but also to strengthen energy solidarity between France and Belgium. In concrete terms, this makes it possible to increase the capacity to import electricity from one country to another. But of course it works both ways. If there is a lack of juice in France, Belgium provides it and vice versa. The French networks, RTE, and Belgium, Elia, have also signed a “mutual aid contract”. Each has a reserve of 250 MW available to the other, in real time, which can be released if necessary.
In theory, therefore, these devices could save one country or another from problems related to the supply of electricity. In reality, this will depend on the production and consumption situation of the two countries. In short, we must not find ourselves in the galley at the same time.