Grid operator Fluvius wants to invest an additional 4 billion in electricity grids

Grid company Fluvius wants to invest an additional 4 billion in the Flemish distribution networks for electricity between next year and 2032. To ensure that by 2030 we can continue to smoothly accommodate up to 1.5 million electric cars, massive numbers of heat pumps and solar panels, and rising consumption in industry, Fluvius is proposing to reinforce 40 percent of the low-voltage grid, 13 percent of the medium-voltage grid, and one-third of the distribution cabins that distribute power in the streets over the next ten years. Investments in the gas grid will then be phased out over the next decade.
By Thomas Voets - Aug 02, 2022

Grid company Fluvius wants to invest an additional 4 billion in the Flemish distribution networks for electricity between next year and 2032. To ensure that by 2030 we can continue to smoothly accommodate up to 1.5 million electric cars, massive numbers of heat pumps and solar panels, and rising consumption in industry, Fluvius is proposing to reinforce 40 percent of the low-voltage grid, 13 percent of the medium-voltage grid, and one-third of the distribution cabins that distribute power in the streets over the next ten years. Investments in the gas grid will then be phased out over the next decade.

Energy transition is at the heart of Fluvius' new Investment Plan, in which the grid company will from now on make annual calculated forecasts for the next ten years in terms of investments in the distribution networks for electricity and gas. This plan will be presented to the authorities, stakeholders and public opinion in the spring. After a public consultation round, it is the Flemish energy regulator VREG that decides in the autumn whether Fluvius' final investment plan will be approved and the requested resources released for the coming years.

Electric cars and heating have biggest impact

The Fluvius Investment Plan is based on the most recent policy decisions regarding the energy transition: the European initiatives Green Deal, Fit for 55 and REPowerEU, the federal decisions regarding taxation of electric company cars as of 2026 and the ambitions regarding mobility and heating in the most recent version of the Flemish Energy and Climate Plan, as drawn up by the Flemish Government at the end of last year.

Fluvius now takes into account 1.5 instead of 1 million electric cars in Flanders by 2030, a complete electrification of public bus transport by 2035 and gradually more electric freight transport. Mobility will in any case have the greatest impact on the electricity grid in the coming decade, in the second half of the decade along with the heating of buildings.

Fluvius assumes that about 12 percent of Flemish buildings will be heated with a heat pump by 2030 - although the renovation rate will have to triple from 1 to 3 percent per year by 2030 to make that goal feasible. After all, all-electric heat pumps work most efficiently in well-insulated buildings. Because of the mandatory phasing out of fuel oil and the large number of less well-insulated homes in Flanders, the grid company is also taking account of an increase in the number of natural gas connections to the existing grid in the coming years. After that, the number of natural gas users will begin to decline. As far as heat networks are concerned, Fluvius' calculations are based on the provisional assumption that there will be a potential of 8 TWh to heat houses and buildings with these in 2050.

In terms of renewable production on the distribution grid, Fluvius is taking into account for the next ten years a further growth in the number of solar panels and wind turbines on land in Flanders, according to the figures from the policy objectives of the Flemish Government.

Business is also impacted: due to increasing electrification, Fluvius also expects rising electricity consumption and peak loads in industry.

And the Investment Plan also takes into account some specific local challenges, such as the problem of failing PV inverters in rural areas, the presence of 230-volt grids that are less suitable for charging full electric cars in historic city centers and the outskirts of Brussels, and the needs of the Flemish seaports.

Electricity: additional 4 billion for 'no regret' action plan

In recent months, Fluvius has simulated several scenarios (with expected numbers around mobility, industry, heating, solar panels and wind turbines) on the current electricity grid and has concluded that for the next ten years, an additional investment is needed anyway. The grid company therefore proposes a "no regret" action plan for the period 2023-2032. This plan means that 30,000 kilometers or 40 percent of the low-voltage grid (important for households and small businesses), 6,000 kilometers or 13 percent of the medium-voltage grid (important for larger companies and part of the industry) and 22,450 or one-third of the distribution cabins that distribute power across Flanders will have to be adapted or reinforced in the coming ten years. In this way, all the expected changes in terms of mobility, heating, in industry and in terms of renewable energy in the next ten years can be properly accommodated.

If the transition should be slower than estimated in today's calculations, this 'no regret' plan does not mean over-investment: we will simply be a little ahead of schedule with respect to the challenges of the continued energy transition.

The Fluvius plan to cope with the energy transition represents 4 billion in additional investments until 2032, on top of the previously planned 7 billion in investments that would be needed even without the energy transition: for example, realizing customer connections, renewing the grids during road works, and replacing outdated grid components. The additional 4 billion for the energy transition means an increase of almost 10 percent in Fluvius' operating budget by 2032.

With the correct and mass use of the digital meter, the proper spreading of charging for electric cars, favorable effects of the capacity tariff and measures on flexibility in the electricity network, the further investment cost of the energy transition in the distribution networks can be limited to 6 billion by 2050 according to the current estimate.

If these measures are not applied on a large scale, the cost price will be much higher by 2050. Since everyone contributes to the management of the Flemish electricity networks through their electricity bills, it is therefore recommended that society take action.

Bron: Press release Fluvius, 8 juni 2022

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Grid operator Fluvius wants to invest an additional 4 billion in electricity grids