Market dynamics: ENGIE is fulfilling its role in the energy sector, and is applying modulation to its local production facilities.

15/05/2020
ENGIE and its subsidiary Electrabel, which generates low-carbon electricity in Belgium, wish to react strongly to recent reports about the current situation in the energy market and the availability of its local production units.

 

  • ENGIE operates a diverse range of low-carbon electricity production facilities in Belgium. ENGIE is also the largest producer of green electricity in the country. The Group is continuously adjusting the output of its power stations to meet all its market obligations. For example, a number of thermal power stations are currently shut down (Drogenbos, Herdersbrug, Zandvliet, Amercoeur and Saint-Ghislain), even though they are available.
  • As far as the nuclear plants are concerned, the Doel 1, Doel 2 and Tihange 1 power stations (i.e. 2 gigawatts out of 6 gigawatts of installed nuclear capacity) are at a standstill for investments related to the extension of operations of these units. The work schedule of Doel 1 and Doel 2 has already been revised to take into account Covid-19 measures. Social distancing is not always possible, and certain interventions have been complicated by the measures. Compared to around the same time last year, the nuclear capacity available on the Belgian grid is currently 750 megawatts lower.
  • It is not technically possible to apply modulation to the 4 nuclear units currently operational. The fuel in Doel 4 and Tihange 3, which will be shut down for maintenance on 5 and 6 June respectively, is at the end of the cycle, so ENGIE faces a technical constraint in this respect.
  • With regard to Doel 3 and Tihange 2, the possibilities of applying modulation to these power stations are limited, and reserved as a last resort in certain situations or for when the balance of the electricity grid is in jeopardy.
  • Finally, with regard to market prices of electricity, these are formed in an interconnected region consisting of France, Germany, Belgium, Luxembourg and the Netherlands (the CWE region). The installed production capacity in the CWE region is 400 gigawatts, of which 20 gigawatts is produced in Belgium and 6 gigawatts (currently 4) by the Belgian nuclear power stations. It is therefore obvious that Electrabel's nuclear generation capacity is not the cause of the current fluctuations in market prices. The decisive factors are the mild temperatures, the wind, the sun, and the coal-fired power stations in Germany. The current market phenomenon is not 'Belgian', but representative of an interconnected reality in a sector where, in the absence of sufficiently acceptable storage techniques, supply and demand have to be kept constantly in balance.

ENGIE and Electrabel state unequivocally that they act with the utmost professionalism, and with absolute respect for market rules. The company and its 17,000 staff have always shown themselves to be very willing to act when Belgium and its customers need it. During the Covid-19 crisis that has been affecting the world and Belgium, ENGIE’s teams have continued to assume their responsibilities professionally. They make an important contribution to the security of energy supplies, and regard energy as essential to the country's activity, even though this activity is slowing down sharply.

Philippe Van Troeye, Managing Director of Electrabel, says that, "The priority at the moment is to manage and resolve the crisis, and to mobilise everything possible needed in this respect. This applies to the 17,000 ENGIE staff working in our hospitals, care institutions, data centres, and telecommunication services. ENGIE acts responsibly to meet its obligations and contribute to Belgium’s energy supply. It's essential that all these technical elements and the constraints of the sector are made clear with maximum transparency, so that everyone can form an objective opinion on the situation".