“Each year, more than 9,200 new jobs are created through the development of renewable sources of energy, with a further 2,700 jobs being created for their subsequent exploitation.” This is one of the remarkable conclusions of a new socio-economic study published today by EDORA, ODE and BOP. At a time when many questions are being raised about the future of energy, not only in our own country but also in Europe as a whole, this simple conclusion cannot be ignored: there is an urgent need for an energy model based on local production, sustainability and affordability. Moreover, it is a model that would also give a significant boost to the Belgian economy. The renewable energy sector therefore urges our political leaders to continue to pursue the energy transition by setting binding targets for 2030.
What does the energy future hold in store for Belgium? How do Europe’s policy makers at the next European climate conference intend to further cut emissions of greenhouse gases, further develop renewable energy and further improve energy efficiency? Setting a triple target for these three parameters, binding at national level, is the only way to guarantee the continuation of progress towards a viable energy transition.
Today, more than ever, renewable sources of energy contribute to the reduction of energy dependence and to the reduction of the risk of a major energy-related incident. They are also an important factor in the economic revitalization of our country. For the Belgian federations BOP, EDORA and ODE, renewable sources of energy are the self-evident solution.
What’s more, renewable sources of energy can also help us to meet many of the socio-economic challenges facing our land.
In order to conduct this debate in a proper manner, it is important that account is taken of all the relevant factors. With this in mind, the federations EDORA, ODE and BOP commissioned a study by the Ernst & Young study bureau. This study analyzed and compared the socio-economic consequences of two different energy production scenarios for Belgium. These scenarios were based on the scenarios contained in the study published by the Federal Planning Agency under the title “Perspectives for electricity supply by 2030”. One scenario foresees that 24% of energy consumption will be generated from renewable energy sources (this is the minimum share for realization of the European targets for Belgium for 2020), whereas the other scenario foresees that renewable energy will remain at the current status quo level of 11% (which is equivalent to the installed capacity in 2012).
Further development of and investment in renewable energy is the best policy for the Belgian economy
More renewable energy means more jobs:
In the scenario with 24% of renewable energy, 9,200 new jobs will be created each year for the construction of new renewable energy installations, in comparison with just 1,700 new jobs per annum for the 11% scenario. In addition to this, new employment opportunities are also created through the exploitation of the new installations: 2,700 jobs per annum for the 24% scenario, against just 160 new jobs for the 11% scenario.
More renewable energy means more local prosperity:
In the scenario with ‘more renewable energy’, some 15 billion euros will be invested in the local economy, in comparison with just one billion euros in the scenario with ‘less renewable energy’.
More renewable energy means less importation from abroad:
The scenario involving ‘more renewable energy’ would result in 5 billion euros less expenditure on the importation of energy from abroad; 13 billion euros against 18 billion euros.
Moreover, it has also been proven that continuing investment in renewable energy will make numerous other positive contributions to the Belgian economy, which were not considered in detail in this study. For example, the strengthening of knowhow and innovation in the domestic market can be a stimulus for export. A conservative estimate suggests that in 2013 some 400 million euros worth of foreign contracts for offshore wind energy projects were won by Belgian companies.
Towards a global vision for an energy policy for the long term
The current actuality of the energy question underlines the importance of taking urgent action to agree a balanced energy mix for the future, based on the need for a stable and affordable energy policy for the long term. The objective: the continued guarantee of security of supply by increased investment in a certain, sustainable and reliable energy system, so that crisis situations like the one we are currently experiencing can be avoided in the future.
For this reason, the Belgian renewable energy sector makes an appeal to the policy makers to develop a clear vision for the energy transition in Belgium during the next 15 years. This vision must be coordinated with and supported by all the relevant levels of governance: European, federal and regional. It must also make possible the further realization of the energy transition by setting targets for proportional renewable energy consumption for 2030 and by making sufficient resources available to make these targets achievable.