Fluvius awards contracts to new contractors to upgrade power grids

Utility company Fluvius has awarded contracts to two groups of new contractors to complete the urgent upgrade of local power grids in Flanders. They will work over the next few years to lay additional low-voltage cables where necessary and equip substations with stronger transformers. In doing this, they will follow specific "low-voltage plans" for each municipality. The implementation will be in full swing from 2025.

Installing additional cables and strengthening transformers

The upgrade of the low-voltage grid requires work in many cities and municipalities across Flanders. To address this quickly and efficiently, Fluvius appointed the new contractors for a period of five years. Each has a specific specialisation.

The first group of contractors will focus on the proactive installation of additional 400-volt cables, which will reinforce the low-voltage grids already in place. Specifically, they will provide an extra cable that customers can connect to as soon as they need more power, such as when buying an electric car, installing a heat pump or for a slightly larger installation of solar panels. In doing this, they will follow the municipal plans that were developed earlier. Four contractors were awarded this contract: TM UltraQS (Tasoz, EBN-Tech, Bro-Technics, Clinckx, Telcom, GS Solutions, IGM, Euroboringen), TM Power4All (Cas-Vos en Besix Connect), APK Group and Solutions 30 Field Services. Work should be in full swing from next year.

The second group of contractors will focus on installing stronger transformers in Fluvius' substations. This will be accompanied by a scheduled power outage for affected residents of a half or full day, depending on the situation. Eight contracting companies will work on the project over the next few years: APVC bv, Equans NV, Fluentis NV, Jacops NV, TM SVES, TM SYN-TECHS, Verbraeken infra NV and Welec NV. Starting next year, 1,600 stations per year are to be reinforced in this way.  

Proactively "Networking for tomorrow"

To combat global warming, we need to move away from fossil fuels such as heating oil or natural gas by 2050. This energy transition will have a particular impact on our power grids, which will have to support increasing numbers of heat pumps, electric vehicles and solar panels. Companies are also making the shift toward electricity. This will require a great deal of grid reinforcements in the coming years, including in the low-voltage grid that connects to every home in Flanders. As many as 40% of these low-voltage grids and one in three substations in Flanders need to be upgraded by 2033. This forms part of a larger investment plan by Fluvius. More information about this is available at www.fluvius.be/netwerkenvoormorgen.

"To best anticipate this, we are accurately mapping out for each city and municipality exactly where cable laying and substation improvements are needed in the coming years," says Bram Van Eeckhout, head of Grid Transition at Fluvius. "This is being done specifically using estimates of the growth in the number of solar panels, heat pumps and electric vehicles in local households, combined with in-depth computer simulations. This enables us to know where it's best to start working now. Armed with these analyses, we're knocking on doors around the cities and municipalities involved to schedule the works with a fair distribution and as little disruption as possible. City and municipal authorities can also lend their input to our estimates. Over 160 municipal plans are now already in the works across Flanders. What's important to note is that we always research extensively to identify where we can coordinate our timing with works by other utility companies or scheduled road works. This way we avoid successive excavations and disruption."

Very strong focus on collaboration

"Across Flanders, we're facing some major challenges in realising the energy transition and strengthening our grids as efficiently as possible," says Frank Vanbrabant, CEO of Fluvius. "These new contractor contracts will help us maintain sufficient pace in upgrading our low-voltage grids, more specifically for installing 400-volt cables and strengthening transformers in our substations. We also need collaborations with many parties, such as cities and municipalities that support us and provide crucial local input for the development of our plans. But we also join forces with other utility companies, material suppliers and many other stakeholders. Together, we're working hard on building the networks for tomorrow."