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Is Europe about to go dark?

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By Catherine Hardy  with RTL info, RTBF
Is Europe about to go dark?

Winter has arrived in much of Europe and more is on its way.

A wave of cold is expected to bring sub-zero temperatures across the continent over the coming days and, with it, fears of electricity blackouts.

Contingency plan

Six electricity networks across Europe are strengthening their ability to share electricity.

The hope is this will play a key role in ensuring the stability of supply in times of high demand.

The companies are:

  • RTE – France
  • Elia – Belgium
  • REE – Spain
  • Amprion – Germany
  • TenneT – Netherlands
  • Swissgrid – Switzerland
  • Terna – Italy


France is expecting record low temperatures, as much as ten degrees below the seasonal average.

Electricity may have to be imported from neighbouring countries.

Analysts say this will put the market under pressure. The concern is prices will rise.


Belgium may have to activate its strategic reserves of power to keep the supply stable, a representative of Elia, the Belgian network operator, told RTL info.

“We have power stations that are not normally in use, which are not producing electricity, which are kept as a reserve. It is a safety net we can rely on if we need to,” a spokesperson said.

Professor Damien Ernst of the University of Liege says importing electricity could prove difficult: “Even by activating the strategic reserve, we will need to find 1700-1800 megawatts from abroad, most likely from Holland. But France and Belgium will also want to be able to import electricity from Holland, so the risk is that it could even be difficult to import these 1700-1800 megawatt from Holland”