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Belgium to deploy "power ships" to tackle blackout threat?

Belgium may be confronted with massive power cuts this autumn and winter, as the majority of our nuclear power plants is offline, for several reasons. One of the options power suppliers Engie Electrabel are considering to solve the issue, is to hire a so-called power ships, De Tijd reports. This is now being done by developing or war-torn countries such as Gambia, Lebanon and Sierra Leone.

At present, only 1 of our 7 nuclear plants is generating electricity. With autumn coming, power consumption is increasing and experts fear that a peak moments, Belgium could be confronted with a general shortage. When this would happen, some municipalities will automatically be put offline to save power to avoid a complete blackout. 

Power suppliers Electrabel, who manage the nuclear plant systems, have calculated that we need about 750 megawatt extra to wipe out the blackout threat next autumn and winter, and they are leaving no stone unturned to find a solution. Importing electricity is one option, but neighbouring countries can only export if they are feeling comfortable themselves.   

Nothing has been decided yet. It will depend on whether it's technically feasible

The latest proposal on the table is to deploy so-called power ships. These are actually floating power suppliers, generating electricity by burning gas or diesel. They could be connected to our electricity grid at the coast, but experts warn that the whole operation may take several weeks, up to two months.

Engie Electrabel spokeswoman Hellen Smeets told the VRT that "it's an option we are considering, but nothing has been decided yet. A lot will depend on whether it's technically feasible."

This would put Belgium on a list with Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique and Sierra Leone

Energy pundit André Jurres of Energie-Blog.com calls it merely a temporary solution. One ship would guarantee us 470 megawatt, so by deploying two ships you would replace one big nuclear power plant, he explains. This would ease Electrabel's worries though. 

He adds it's a solution Belgium is unworthy of. The option is now only being used by developing countries or emerging economies such as Gambia, Ghana, Mozambique, Lebanon and Sierra Leone.