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RWE's Dutch gas plant link to Belgium blocked for second time


Minister Wiebes upholds original objections

Grid stability, local spatial plan at issue

RWE seeking to tap into Belgium capacity fees

London — The Dutch government has rejected an appeal by RWE seeking to revive plans to link its 1.3 GW Clauscentrale gas-fired power plant in the Netherlands to the Belgian electricity grid, the Economic Affairs ministry confirmed July 10.

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In a July decision, Minister of Economic Affairs and Climate Policy Eric Wiebes said RWE's objections to the original decision were unfounded and, as the contested decision would not be revoked, "there is also no reason to proceed to the compensation requested by RWE" for its appeal costs.

The appeal was rejected for two main reasons, ministry spokesman Dion Huidekooper told S&P Global Platts.

"Our system operator, Tennet, made technical objections, saying it was insufficiently substantiated that the intended cable did not lead to risks for the high-voltage grid located nearby," he said.

This was particularly the case on the Van Eyck–Maasbracht interconnection between the Netherlands and Belgium.

As such, "undisturbed and reliable transmission" could not be guaranteed under RWE's plans, he said.

"In addition, construction of the proposed underground connection is not in line with the current development plan of the municipality of Echt-Susteren," Huidekooper said.

In August, 2019, RWE submitted an application to build an underground cable from the Claus plant in Maasbracht to the Van Eyck switching station in the municipality of Kinrooi, Belgium.

In February this year the application was refused, giving RWE six weeks to appeal.

This it did in March, with the economics minister authorized to carry out the appeals process.

In a July decision Wiebes said it could still not be said with sufficient certainty that, during construction and management of the connection, there would be no risks to power flows on Tennet's high-voltage network.

In particular, disconnection of a circuit on the Van Eyck-Maasbracht connection could not be ruled out during construction, the minister said.

Further, electromagnetic compatibility could not be guaranteed between RWE's cable and the nearby Van Eyck-Maasbracht line.

Neither did the proposed connection fit within the zoning plan of the municipality of Echt-Susteren, requiring a change in plans, Wiebes said.

RWE had contested these points in its appeal. The German utility was not immediately available to comment on the latest decision.

Belgium is in the process of setting up a capacity mechanism, via which capacity linked to its system could in future receive availability fees.