Vilvoorde power station ready to make up potential shortages


A new gas-fired power station in Vilvoorde could do much to ease electricity problems this winter brought on by the closure of three nuclear power reactors

Gas-fired station

A new gas-fired power station in Vilvoorde, just outside Brussels, came on-stream yesterday and is ready to supply the strategic reserve of electricity required for the winter, said power company E.ON. There is a threat of brownouts this winter due to three of the country’s nuclear reactors being out of commission because of defects.

The Vilvoorde plant (pictured) has in recent months been transformed from closed-cycle to open cycle, which required the construction of a new chimney. The station is now capable of producing 265 megawatts (MW) of energy when required.

The federal government aims to construct a strategic reserve of 850 MW to cope with peaks in demand. The German-owned E.ON would produce 750 MW between its Vilvoorde plant and one in Seraing in Wallonia. The remaining 100 MW would come from large consumers who have committed to reducing their own consumption at peak moments.

Belgium will be dependent on imports throughout the winter, according to a report produced by the European association of grid managers ENTSO-E. “Each week could be potentially critical," the report says.

In Europe as a whole, there is enough capacity to meet demand, even in the case of severe winter weather, the report states. Some countries, like Belgium, will be dependent on imports.

The problem will be seen during severely cold weather, when the import requirement will reach 3.6 gigawatts, far higher than Belgium’s strategic reserve can handle. The critical moment will be reached at minus six degrees, with wind power operating at only 20%, according to simulations.

Photo courtesy De Standaard

A new gas-fired power station in Vilvoorde could do much to ease electricity problems this winter brought on by the closure of three nuclear power reactors.

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A subsidiary of the French GDF Suez, Electrabel is the largest energy supplier in Belgium. Its two biggest competitors in Flanders are EDF Luminus and Nuon.
History - Originally established as the “Electriciteitsmaatschappij der Schelde” (Electricity Company of the Scheldt) in 1905, Electrabel has gone through several mergers since then, adopting its current name in 1990.
Activities - Electrabel’s two core activities are electricity production and sale and delivery of electricity, natural gas and energy services to consumers, small businesses, industry clients and public institutions.
Clashes - In recent years, Electrabel has repeatedly butted heads with Flemish energy ministers and the Flemish energy market regulator. Sticking points have included steep energy prices, closure of three nuclear reactors and payment of a nuclear contribution of millions of euros.
5 151

employees in 2013

9 163

production capacity in megawatts in 2013


millions customers in 2013