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German-Belgian Alegro power link on track for November start


First 1 GW full load in both directions

Nov. 9 official opening with ministers

London — The first power interconnector between Belgium and Germany has successfully transmitted at full capacity of 1 GW in both directions, German transmission system operator Amprion said Oct. 29.

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Amprion and Belgian counterpart Elia plan to inaugurate the link Nov. 9 with Belgian energy minister Tinne van der Straeten and the governor of the German state North-Rhine Westphalia Armin Laschet at Aachen.

"We put the new German-Belgium underground cable under full load for the first time, successfully transmitting 1,000 MW in both directions," Amprion said, noting IT systems to manage the grids were also validated.

On Sept. 7, the TSOs targeted the start of commercial operations for mid-November with the exact go-live date yet to be announced, but ramp-up preparations including shadow auctions set to start from Nov. 3.

The Alegro link will be the first connection between the Belgian and German high-voltage grid with a 90-km (56-mile) direct current underground cable linking the Liege and Aachen regions.

In January 2019, Belgium started the 1-GW Nemo subsea link to Great Britain, adding cross-border transmission capacity to the traditional Dutch and French links, making Belgium a key power transit hub.

Belgium's status as importer or exporter of electricity depends on the availability of its 6-GW nuclear fleet.

The new Belgian government formed late September plans to maintain a 2025 exit date for nuclear, but the option of lifetime extensions for two reactors has been kept open, with a final decision by November 2021 based on an assessment then of the country's security of supply position.

Germany is shutting its final reactors end-2022 and plans to close 3 GW of lignite-fired capacity in the Rhenish mining region close to the Belgian border.