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RTE and Elia plan to strengthen the France-Belgium interconnection.

Source: RTE 16/12/2003

RTE and Elia plan to strengthen the existing 380,000 volt linking Avelin (France) and Avelgem (Belgium), with work set to begin in the second semester of 2004.

RTE (1) and Elia (2), the French and Belgian electricity transmission system operators, plan to strengthen the existing 380,000 volt linking Avelin (France) and Avelgem (Belgium), with work set to begin in the second semester of 2004. This project is intended to increase electricity exchange capacities between the two countries, thereby guaranteeing a an improved mutual security.

The 380,000 volt EHV line between Avelin and Avelgem, was constructed in 1974, currently only consists of one circuit (made up of three pairs of electrical conductors). It had actually been designed to carry two circuits. The project involves adding a second circuit.

The project is a response to the acknowledged importance of cross-border connections related to public service missions, which require the TSOs to guarantee the security of supply. It will also contribute to the opening of the electricity market.

- An increase in the mutual back-up capacity. The European Commission has indicated that the increase in electricity transits between France and the Benelux area is a priority project. At a conference on December 15th 2003, the Council of European Energy Ministers reminded the need to develop interconnection infrastructures, to prevent the risk of incidents.

- Increased capacity for exchanges within the internal electricity market. The opening up the European electricity market is going on. In the interests of economic players, the two transmission system operators are responding to calls for increased cross-border electricity exchanges.

- A more robust line. On the French side, it is planned to bring the line into compliance with the new technical standards laid down following the storms of December 1999 : RTE plans to strengthen the foundations and structures of pylons between Avelin and the border. On the Belgian side, Elia already strengthened the line after the storms that hit Belgium in 1990.

Taking into account the strengthening of the Chooz-Monceau line by Elia, the interconnection capacity between France and Belgium will thus be raised from 2250 MW to 3700 MW at peak times in winter.

Elia and RTE will continue and co-ordinate their actions in terms of proximity communication and consultation with local residents, with the emphasis on listening and dialogue.

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(1) RTE is the French electricity transmission system operator, set up on 1st July 2000. A public service company, its mission is to operate, maintain and develop the high and extra high voltage network. It guarantees the proper working and safety of the electric system.
RTE transports electricity between suppliers (French and European) and consumers, whether they are electricity distributors (EDF and local distribution companies) or eligible consumers (industrial sites connected directly to the transmission system).
With 100,000 km of lines between 63,000 and 400,000 volts and 44 cross-border lines, the network operated by RTE is the largest in Europe. In 2002, RTE posted turnover of 3,657 million Euros. The company employs 8,000 staff.
(2) Elia operates the high and extra high voltage electricity transmission system in Belgium.