The Dark Age - power blackouts in Belgium
For the past couple of years, Belgium has been facing possible electrical outages. Its old energy infrastructure is slowly being shut down, but there are no sustainable plans for the future. Is Belgium entering a dark age?
How come Belgium faces power outages?
Belgium relies heavily on nuclear reactors for electricity. However, these reactors are from the 70s and 80s. They are dangerously nearing their 40-year expiration date. While most European countries have the same problem, Belgium hasn’t thought of a plan B in time. When all the nuclear reactors were operational, they provided more than half of the energy needed in the country. The reactors are becoming more of a safety hazard as time passes, and they have to be closed down for reparations every couple of years. Without all of the nuclear reactors running the grid is destabilized
Why does the grid need to be stable?
Grid balancing is very delicate and time-sensitive. The variations cannot be too significant, and the supply and demand have to meet at every moment. If there is too much electricity, with little need for it, it can cause disruptions, which may disconnect power plants resulting in energy outages. A similar situation occurs when the circumstances are reversed. If nothing gets done when the demand is too high, power plants will start switching off one by one, leading to a complete failure of the system (a total blackout).
What to do?
Importing and exporting electricity has proven to be only partially successful. Even though Belgium has imported 22 % of its electricity, it is still not enough to bridge the gap between production and consumption. Therefore, load shedding is the last resort. It is a method that withholds the supply of electricity for specific areas to relieve the pressure on the grid. In other words, certain parts of the country will experience power cuts because there is no other way around it. The second option is to turn to renewable sources of energy, such as wind or solar. The question is: is it too late for Belgium?
As citizens trying to contribute, we can reduce how much energy we use. It can be as simple as unplugging things when they aren’t used! Another option is to store our energy for future use. Energy storage systems are an efficient way to ensure your home will never be affected by load shedding. Don’t be left in the dark!