Photo: Bart Dewiley
In the coming years, 2 to 3 new gas-fired power plants will be built in our country. The Cabinet decided that on Friday. New gas-fired power plants must ensure that light combustion continues when nuclear power plants are closed in 2025, and that our country can switch to renewable energy.
The Cabinet approved the legal framework for the Customer Relationship Management Mechanism, or Capacity Rewards Mechanism: a system to support investors with additional production capacity. This assistance will be awarded through an auction. The government set the size of the auction for October for Friday. It’s about helping build production that takes up to four years to build, for example gas-fired power plants. But other technologies also qualify.
In October, an aid package of 2.3 gigawatts of new capacity will be awarded. In addition, the number of new gas-fired power plants is kept to a minimum. Concretely, a maximum of two to three gas-fired power plants will be built, each of which is good for around 800 megawatts or medium-sized nuclear power plant capacity. The lowest bidder can then start construction once the necessary permits are received.
Faster renewable energy
According to Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen), the CRM should allow us to “accelerate” the transition to renewable energy and “gain the necessary flexibility in our network.” Flexible gas capacity is needed, but the government also wants to encourage investments in other technologies – such as storage, batteries, demand management, or interconnection.
So there will be a second auction in 2024. A significant volume (1.4 gigawatts) will be reserved for such innovative systems.
According to the minister, central to government policy is “security of supply and affordability”.
The first auction is scheduled for October. Producers can prepare and submit their files. Europe has yet to give the final green light to the support mechanism, but a meeting last week between Van der Stryten and European Commissioner Margaret Westager showed that there are no obstacles that cannot be overcome.