October 16, 2018 / 3:34 PM / 2 months ago

UPDATE 1-Germany to help Belgium with power supplies this winter

(Updates throughout)

BERLIN/BRUSSELS, Oct 16 (Reuters) - Belgium and Germany agreed on Tuesday to cooperate on ensuring secure power supplies to Belgium this winter amid a shutdown of most of the nuclear-reliant country’s reactors.

Belgium has reached out to neighbouring countries for commitments of energy imports to avoid a power shortage from six of the seven nuclear reactors in Belgium being offline from the end of October through mid-November.

France has promised 1 gigawatts of power capacity and Luxembourg 200 megawatts.

Belgian Environment and Energy Minister Marie-Christine Marghem signed a memorandum of understanding with German Economy Minister Peter Altmaier in Berlin.

“The agreement signed today between the two countries stipulates that a minimum of 20 percent of the high-voltage lines in Germany needs to be free to help facilitate the imports coming principally from Germany and the Netherlands in case of necessity,” a statement from the Belgian ministry said.

A large part of renewable electricity produced in northern Germany passes through Belgian interconnectors on its way to southern Germany. The transit, known as loop flows, limits the capacity for electricity imports to Belgium.

Altmeier added that Germany could deliver power to Belgium via the Netherlands. There are no direct power transmission lines from Germany to Belgium yet, but there are between Germany and the Netherlands and the Netherlands and Belgium.

In a separate statement from both ministries, they said they would both “do their utmost” and apply agreed measures to address Belgium’s short-term power generation concerns.

“Both sides will take additional steps to foster mutual understanding and will intensify their efforts to solve the challenges in the upcoming winter,” the statement added.

Further to that, the two countries will work on possible medium and long-term solutions to increase security of supply, including through the Belgium-Germany interconnector ALLEGrO to avoid system and grid security issues in the region.

The link, when it is completed by 2020, will be the first interconnector between Belgium and Germany.

Reporting by Markus Wacket in BERLIN, Daphne Psaledakis in BRUSSELS; Writing by Nina Chestney in LONDON; Editing by Mark Potter

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