Elia came to this conclusion on the basis of electricity consumption last year. The 49 hour figure is at the bottom of the range of possibilities. If Belgium experiences a very harsh winter the shortage could run up to 116 hours.
The calculations take account of the difficulties involving three of the country's nuclear reactors.
Energy Secretary Catherine Fonck believes that the Elia study ignores the measures that the Belgian Government is now drawing up in order to avoid catastrophe. The measures include turning the lights off in public buildings and on motorways and information campaigns to impress upon people the need for energy conservation.