A number of tools and mechanisms have been put in place to enable electricity market players to manage the balance between generation and consumption at all times, despite the uncertainties and new challenges associated with the rise of renewables.
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Generation forecasts for wind and solar power

Elia issues a sort of ‘renewable energy forecast’, which it makes available to the market. Market players can go to Elia’s site to consult generation forecasts for wind and solar power and compare them with the actual situation in real time.

This enables them to determine how much non-renewable energy they will need to meet their customers’ needs, in addition to the renewable energy. They can then reserve the electricity they need from power stations.

By comparing forecasts and measurements, they can also refine the reliability of the forecasting information they use.

Exporting or importing electricity

Electricity knows no borders! We are part of a large, interconnected electricity grid that stretches from Portugal to Poland. This situation is a real advantage for all concerned: if one country is generating too much electricity, the electricity can be exported to a country that does not have enough.

When too much electricity is available, it is sometimes traded on the wholesale market at a negative price.

Balancing reserves

Depending on requirements, another solution is to adjust generation or consumption:

Adjusting generation

When too much or too little electricity is being generated, power stations can be asked to reduce or increase their output. Elia concludes contracts with various producers to that end.

Adjusting consumption

In the electricity sector, supply is usually matched to demand. However, we are now seeing the emergence of mechanisms designed to match consumption to the amount of electricity available.

For instance, we can ask industrial consumers (through an aggregator if need be) to cut their consumption by shutting down certain production lines, in exchange for financial compensation.

Call for solidarity

If all of these mechanisms are not enough to ensure security of supply, the authorities may ask citizens to limit their electricity consumption through awareness campaigns and bans.

In parallel with this, the OFF ON campaign was launched in 2014 to make the general public, companies and associations aware of the importance of responsible and sustainable consumption. It offers lots of advice on how to reduce your consumption and, at the same time, your electricity bill.

Check out OFFON.be now for more information.

The outage plan

The outage plan is intended as a last resort, when all of the other mechanisms to ensure security of supply are not enough to meet the demand for electricity. The outage plan is actually an emergency plan and, like any other emergency plan, applies at all times – summer and winter, this year and in years to come.

The plan only comes into effect as a last-ditch measure and involved disconnecting certain areas from the grid according to a targeted plan. This is done both to prevent grid collapse and to restore stability on the grid as quickly as possible, so that everyone has a power supply again.

You can find more information about the outage plan on the FPS Economy website.

Blackouts and planned outages: know the difference

Blackout

  • Unpredictable
  • Uncontrolled
  • Exceptional
  • Following a major incident
  • Over a large area (European power grid)
  • Length of power cut: indefinite

Planned outage

  • Planned
  • Controlled
  • Following an observation
  • Over a limited area
  • A few hours

A planned outage involves temporarily cutting the power supply to certain consumers, in a controlled way, to avoid a widespread blackout.

You can find more information about the outage plan on the FPS Economy website.