Belgium only had one nuclear power plant in operation last autumn, which led to a peak in electricity costs. Some tariffs went as high as 500 euros per megawatts per hour (MWh) last November. But the situation is now completely different. The current price negotiated on the market is 13 euros per MWh gross, with one tariff going below zero (-5 euros per MWh) at some points in the day. Large consumers, such as chemical companies, were paid to use electricity.
This price drop can be explained by the principal of supply and demand. The more supply exceeds demand, the more electricity prices drop. A combination of strong winds tearing through the country over the last few days and six out of the seven nuclear power plants being operational has led to negative prices on the market. “It is happening more and more, up to 30 days a year”, says one energy entrepreneur, André Jurres. “Both nuclear energy and windfarms are not flexible enough. Power plants cost too much to be shut down”, Mr Jurres said. He is also the boss of Volt Energy.
The energy specialist said these negative prices are not good news: “it shows the market is unbalanced, that the system isn’t working”. Mr Jurres also said he hoped the fall in prices would force authorities to act. “The government needs to see it as a sign that we urgently need to find alternatives. We need flexible power plants, such as gas plants, for the transition phase”.
Mr Jurres said the large-scale production of hydrogen could also be a solution. Windfarms could play an important role. He can also see numerous advantages to working with the Netherlands, both in building windfarms in the North Sea and hydrogen production.