Germany Pushes Energy Security With Second Belgium Power Link

Germany and Belgium are planning a second interconnector to increase cross-border electricity flows and safeguard energy security, but the project could take 15 years.
Amprion GmbH and Elia Group SA —  the two nations’ transmission firms — signed an agreement on Tuesday to study the second link, after starting the first project to connect their high-voltage grids in 2020. Such interconnectors will become increasingly important for Germany, which is scrambling to cut its dependence on Russian gas and could become a net power importer in coming years. 
The energy transition has increased the need for further cooperation in carbon capture and storage and offshore wind, Belgian Prime Minister Alexander De Croo said at a meeting with German Chancellor Olaf Scholz in Zeebrugge. The two countries also agreed to connect their hydrogen infrastructures by 2028.
Germany is shutting its last nuclear power plants in mid-April and aims to phase out coal by the end of the decade, making it likely it will need power from elsewhere. Electricity demand is projected to increase by about a third over that period, and is expected to double again in the 2030s, Scholz said. 
“The backbone of this newly emerging economy are, of course, high-performance electricity grids, which must be massively expanded with investment decisions that are being made now,” the German chancellor said. “That’s umpteen billions, hundreds of billions that have to be invested to ensure our security.”
The two transmission companies plan to publish a concept note by the middle of next year on the second interconnector, which could have a capacity of 1 gigawatt, enough to power about a million homes, according to Bloomberg estimates. Inflation could take the cost to as much as €700 million ($753 million) compared with €480 million for the first link, Elia Chief Executive Officer Chris Peeters told Bloomberg. 
Even if the project is found to be viable, it will only be commissioned after 2037 because of the need to strengthen both countries’ power grids, Amprion and Elia said in a statement. That’s almost a decade after the earliest estimate given in a previous project outline.
That’s partly due to work on the German grid, Peeters said. A spokeswoman of Germany’s Amprion added that the introduction of a capacity market in Belgium also made it necessary to reassess the project.
The two countries exchanged 5 terawatt-hours of electricity via their first interconnector in the past year, with electricity flowing toward Belgium 63% of the time.

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