The Belgium National Committee aims to promote sustainable energy development in Belgium, as a part of the World Energy Council's energy vision. As a member of the World Energy Council network, the organisation is committed to representing the Belgian perspective within national, regional and global energy debates. The committee includes a variety of members to ensure that the diverse energy interests of Belgium are appropriately represented. Members of the committee are invited to attend high-level events, participate in energy-focused study groups, contribute to technical research and be a part of the global energy dialogue.
William D’haeseleer is Full Professor in the Faculty of Engineering of the University of Leuven (KU Leuven), Belgium. He teaches courses in the domain of Energy Technology & Management (Thermodynamics, Nuclear Energy, Thermal Systems, Renewable Energy). His research is mainly situated in the areas of Energy Conservation & Energy Management, Energy & Environment, Energy Systems, and Energy Policy. He is Director of the KU Leuven Energy Institute. W. D’haeseleer graduated as Electro-Mechanical Engineer (option Energy; 5y program – “Diplom-Ingenieur”) and MS in Nuclear Science & Engineering from the KU Leuven in 1980 and 1982, respectively. In December 1983, he obtained another MS degree in Electrical Engineering (Plasma Physics) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-M), USA. He received his Doctoral Degree (PhD) from the UW-M in May 1988. From 1988 till 1993, he resided in Germany, at the Max-Planck-Institut für Plasmaphysik in Garching-bei-München, after which he was active in the Belgian engineering consulting company Tractebel Engineering. As of 1996, he holds a full professorship at the KU Leuven. He has been a Fulbright Fellow and is an elected member of the Royal Academy of the Sciences and the Arts of Belgium (KVAB).
Energy in Belgium
2018 was characterised by great concerns around the security of electricity supply. With just a few weeks before the start of the winter, Belgium has faced the unexpected unavailability of multiple nuclear power stations, a situation that has severely tested the balance between generation and consumption. A taskforce has been created by the Federal Minister of Energy and different options have been examined. Both the supply and demand side options have been considered. However, the risk of load shedding for the beginning of 2019 is not completely excluded.
At the moment of the Energy Issues Survey, a few key issues were on the table of the Federal Minister of Energy: the reform of the offshore subsidy system, the introduction of a Capacity Remuneration Mechanism to ensure that gas power plants are available after 2025 (as the Parliament has decided by law to close all nuclear power plants by this date) and the introduction of a so-called Energy Norm. This bill is aimed at ensuring that energy prices, in particular electricity and natural gas, are no longer superior to those of neighbouring countries. Due to the country’s political situation, no decision has yet been taken by the Federal Government.
Electricity Prices, in particular those for large industrial consumers, are still a concern, especially when lower industrial prices of neighbouring countries are taken into account. Large consumers call for the application of an “energy norm” so that energy prices in Belgium, and in particular for electricity and natural gas, are no longer superior to those of neighbouring countries.
EU Cohesion is a concern for the respondents in Belgium as at the time of the survey the negotiations about Brexit were still going on and the consequences for Belgian industry are most uncertain.
The Climate Framework is also identified as a critical uncertainty. At the moment of the survey, Regional and Federal Authorities were preparing the National Climate and Energy Plan as requested by the Regulation on the Governance of the Energy Union.
Renewable energy sources (RES) are identified as the biggest action priority for Belgium. The production of renewable electricity has seen a sharp rise in the last decade. Thanks to the offshore wind turbines, wind is the main RES for electricity production, although the installed solar PV capacity is also substantial.
Regional integration is an action priority for Belgium as the country participates in different regional initiatives such as the Pentalateral Energy Forum to increase regional cooperation and to improve market integration.
The fact that China has been identified as an action priority can be explained by Chinese state energy companies interest in acquiring stakes in the Belgian grid operators (DSO and TSO). Both acquisition attempts have been unsuccessful.
Half of Belgian gas users consume lean gas, imported from the Netherlands (Groningen - Slochteren). However, these gas reserves are close to being exhausted. The Dutch authorities have therefore announced intention to reduce gas exports until complete interruption by 2030. A conversion plan to rich gas has been set up. The conversion operations have started in 2018 and will continue until 2029.
The position of most energy issues in this year’s map does not come as a surprise, except perhaps the perception around the Nuclear issue, which is expected to have an impact “without uncertainty”. This may come as an unexpected result, since there is still a large uncertainty as to the effective date of a complete phase out (note that in “normal years”, more than half of the Belgian electricity is generated by nuclear means). The position of nuclear in the map is therefore to be interpreted that the respondents are certain that the “yes-or-no” nuclear phase out will definitely have an impact.