Minister Marghem opened the 2015 EWEA wind energy conference together with a number of her other European colleagues, including the French minister Ségolène Royale, the German secretary of state Rainer Blaake, and Maroc Sefcovic, the vice-chairman of the European Commission and the representative for the Energy Union. This was a strong signal on the eve of the COP21 Conference, and one in which the policy actors and the industry demonstrated their continued support for renewable energy. “I have decided to come to Paris today, where all the key technological players for the future are present. My direction is the direction of the wind. In the future, we will need more and more renewable energy,” assured the minister.
Several important Belgian companies underlined the maturity and the competitiveness of the renewable energy sector in general, but also emphasized its importance for their own activities. Dow Corning, world leader in silicon, built a wind turbine that will directly provide 20% of the energy requirements at their Seneffe site. “We first improved our energy efficiency, before starting with the production of our own electricity. In this respect, wind energy is by far the most efficient option,” said Annick Meerschman, director of Dow Corning Seneffe.
In view of the fact that wind energy is expected to meet 28% of Europe’s total energy consumption by 2030, which it is estimated will create some 366,000 new jobs, it is hardly surprising that interest in the Belgian public sector is considerable. Infrabel, the operators of the Belgian railway infrastructure, have already inaugurated seven of its 25 planned wind turbines, which must serve to provide electricity for its train lines: “The turbines of the project in which we are investing distribute power to some 170 trains each day and cover 5% of our consumption for all passenger transport by rail in Belgium,” specified Richard Marcelis, the chief engineer of Infrabel.
In 2014, the renewable energy sector was responsible for the construction of three-quarters of the new electrical installations in Europe. In order to ensure the growth and further penetration of renewable energy, the industry is asking for a clear and ambitious energy policy, as underlined by Jef Colruyt, CEO of the Colruyt Group: “A clear, stable, long-term policy for energy will guarantee the greatest level of efficiency for our investments.”
The Belgian actors welcomed the announcement by Minister Marghem that she intends to aim for an ambitious energy plan. This will involve the regions developing a coordinated approach to their energy strategy, in which an increasing share for renewable energy must be an integral component.
This summer, France is already working on new legislation that will make possible an energy transition with a significantly bigger role for green electricity. It seems that Belgium is now prepared to follow a similar path. “Our wish is to develop, like Germany and France, a long-term strategy through an energy pact,” concluded the minister.