The Energy Vision 2030-2050 of Flanders


The Flemish government has approved the Energy Vision 2030-2050, which determines how to continue the energy policy in Flanders after 2020. It is the result of one year of consultation between the Flemish Minister of Energy Bart Tommelein, over 40 stakeholders from industry, academia, social partners and different sector federations – and citizens, who were consulted via an interactive website and a citizen panel.

The Energy Vision continues the strategy that was chosen before, but simultaneously increases its goals: it is accompanied by 53 detailed action points. With the energy transition, Flanders wants to halt climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by no less than 80 to 95 % in 2050.

CO² emissions down, energy efficiency up

The Flemish government wants to continue the energy agreements with the industry in the future. For major consumers like transportation, agriculture or buildings the general rule still counts: CO² emission needs to go down, energy efficiency needs to go up.

On the road, Flanders is aiming for less kilometers. Sustainable options like public transport, electrical vehicles, car sharing or alternatives for freight transport are needed. Aside from that, zero emission vehicles, either electricity-fueled or hydro-fueled will become the norm. By 2030, the sale of fossil-fueled cars should be cut in half. By 2035 Flanders wants to reflect European targets, meaning that all newly sold cars should have zero emissions.

All the way towards renewable energy

After the announced federal nuclear phase-out in 2025, the share of renewable energy will have to be expanded. Sun, wind and biomass are most known in Flanders and will all grow bigger.

Heating is gradually conquering its rightful place in the Flemish renewable energy landscape. Waste heat from industrial production processes can be re-used on industrial sites or in multi-energy solutions at district level.  Being an intensively urbanized area, with over 150 cities and communities who have signed the Covenant of Mayors, Flanders is an ideal take-off market for multi-energy solutions at district level. In these, deep geothermal energy can be deployed as well .

Of course the Energy Vision accounts for the intermittent character of sun and wind: flexible and smart applications are vital. Excess electricity will be stored and (later) used according to supply and demand, all of this driven by (data from) smart meters and smart grids. The ‘Energy Cloud’ is becoming important. A trump of the Flemish region is the growing number of SME’s (notably aggregators) with energy integration and demand and supply management as their core business.

Security of supply and avoiding local congestion are priorities for the energy system of tomorrow. In this context, an extended use of interconnections with neighboring countries is vital. Microgrids are another way to meet these challenges, because microgrids manage their own production, storage and demand facilities and are less depending on the distribution grid. Flemish companies seek collaboration to capitalize on the boom in the market for microgrid technology. They focus on developing scalable, hybrid microgrids for a range of industrial and residential settings.

Support new technologies, but no longer than necessary

The government wants to minimize the total cost of the energy transition by phasing out subsidies for new technologies once they reach a certain point of maturity (or once it becomes clear the point of maturity will not be reached). There are three stages of adoption: at first early adopters are encouraged via subsidies and direct support. In a second stage, a broader audience is reached via fiscal encouragements. Finally, standards are imposed to realize the last necessary results. The costs will be calculated via different energy carriers and in consultation with other governments, a CO² tax will be investigated.

The Minister of Energy Tommelein wants to set up a monitoring system as well with federal and other regional energy regulators to monitor and adjust the overall energy costs of various industries. “Our companies must not suffer from a competitive disadvantage compared to our neighboring countries,” says Bart Tommelein.

In fact, Flanders believes clean energy can be a driver of economic growth. Energy is one of the spearhead clusters supported by the Flemish government. Through living labs and co-development projects in five ‘innovator zones’ (energy harbors, microgrids, multi-energy solutions at district level, energy cloud platforms and intelligent renovation), Flux50 aims to enhance the competitiveness of the Flemish smart energy industry. The organization helps Flemish companies from the energy, IT and building sector to seize the economic opportunities inherent in the ongoing transition towards a sustainable, clean energy system.

Affordable energy bills and a market-driven energy transition

It is critical that the energy bill stays affordable for all citizens and that energy poverty is tackled. Therefore, the new policy will be financed via the government budget instead of the energy bill. The role and tasks of DSO’s will be reviewed: monopoly when desirable, outsourcing to the free market where possible. Bart Tommelein: “The energy transition must be market-driven. Companies can exploit opportunities by investing in rational energy consumption, renewable energy production and smart grids. In that way, they can develop new markets.”

It is concluded that the execution of the Energy Vision in Flanders is not just a political issue. A broad group of stakeholders, including the citizens, need to participate in the energy transition both on the financial level as on the level of policy.