In a new auction of the Capacity Remuneration Mechanism (CRM), the support mechanism to ensure electricity supply in Belgium from 2025, several new battery projects have received support. The temporary lifetime extension of the old Vilvoorde gas-fired power plant is also receiving support.
All the 22 projects that participated will receive subsidies, reports system operator Elia. Together, the projects account for a total capacity of 1 576 MW, including over 600 MW of new capacity. The average bid price was 36 372, 88 euros per MW, plus minus the same as in previous auctions.
Six new battery farms
In addition to 972 MW of existing capacity, this third CRM auction, which aimed to secure some capacity for the winter of 2027-2028, also awarded support to several new battery parks, a booming business. Those new parks, together accounting for 357 MW, should provide a buffer for when there is too little wind and solar power.
According to the business newspaper De Tijd, green energy developer Storm is securing subsidies for two large new battery farms in Ruien and Langerlo (120 and 60 MW respectively). Engie Electrabel gets subsidies for a battery farm in Vilvoorde (111 MW), as does Infotech (40 MW).
Other auction winners for new battery parks are Aspiravi (14 MW), one of Belgium’s greenest energy suppliers, and TotalEnergies (12 MW), the French multi-energy company that has 550 000 customers in Belgium.
No new gas power plant in Vilvoorde yet
In addition, the existing gas power plant in Vilvoorde (246 MW), which is kept on standby for moments of peak consumption, will also get a lifetime extension.
Engie’s construction of a new gas power plant, a project around which there has been quite some wrangling partly because Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir (N-VA) refused an environmental permit, appears to be unnecessary to get through the winter of 2027-2028. Due to the increase in battery projects, support for a third gas-fired power plant after Seraing and Lew Awirs is not an issue.
Moreover, the lifetime extension of Doel 4 and Tihange 3 (1 662 MW) has also been considered.
Solid subsidy pot
It was already the third CRM auction, this one aimed at securing some capacity for the winter of 2027-2028. The CRM auctions, set up thus to secure electricity supplies after the partial nuclear phase-out from 2025, happen partly four years in advance and partly one year in advance.
With the volumes from the previous actions, 3 234 MW have now been contracted, including about 2 GW of new capacity. The total cost of the CRM for the 2027-2028 delivery year cannot be determined at this stage. Indeed, auctions for this delivery period are still possible in the coming years.
For their contribution to the security of supply, new battery farms normally receive subsidies for up to 3, 8, or 15 years. A 40 MW battery farm with a longer 15-year contract would then receive the support of almost 22 million euros over that period. If electricity prices rise above a set level, they pay back some of the support received.
Federal Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) reacted satisfactorily to the auction. “The CRM is once again fulfilling its role and meeting exactly what is expected of the mechanism,” said the minister. “That is first and foremost to guarantee security of supply at the lowest possible cost, especially at times of peak consumption.”
“This year, too, the mechanism is attracting flexible capacities and new players in the market for that purpose. Thanks to stricter CO2 thresholds, we are also seeing a growing shift toward more sustainable energy sources,” the minister concluded.