Artikel (10/12/2007)

Belgium’s energy future challenged by climate change

Every three years, the Federal Planning Bureau  releases a publication on the long-term energy projections  for Belgium, based on the energy model PRIMES.  This Planning Paper is the third in the series and puts the  emphasis on the link with climate change. Amongst  other things, a baseline and a selection of emission  reduction scenarios for the period after 2012 are  described.

Baseline

Under baseline assumptions, national requirements for  coal and natural gas rise between 2000 and 2030, mainly  because the nuclear power plants are phased out. The  surge in renewable energy sources (RES) is noticeable  (4.2% on average per annum): in 2030 they represent  5.2% of the total national energy requirements. The energy  intensity of GDP falls every year by 1.9% on average,  notwithstanding an economic growth of 1.9% p.a.  and a growing population (0.2% p.a.). Final energy demand  increases by 10% during the period 2000-2030.  During that same period, electricity production expands  from 82.6 TWh to 112 TWh and is mainly generated by  fossil-fuel-based thermal power units (99 TWh), while  RES produce the balance (13 TWh), as the last nuclear  plant closes down in 2025. In 2030 the share of RES covers  12% of power production. Between 2000 and 2030,  the total installed capacity expands by 50% because of  (1) growing electricity demand (+1% p.a.), (2) diminishing  net imports, (3) a larger share of (intermittent) RES  that necessitate back-up capacity. Translated into energy-  related CO2 emissions, this boils down to an increase  of 25.2 Mt (from 114.7 Mt in 2000 to 139.9 Mt in 2030). In  2030, the CO2 emission level is 32% higher than registered  in 1990, the base year of the Kyoto Protocol.

Post 2012 scenarios

Because this CO2 level is unsustainably high, the baseline  analysis is complemented by scenarios in which  CO2 or GHG emissions are reduced. The impact of these   eductions on primary and final energy demand and on  power production is scrutinised. A selection of reduction  scenarios is made according to three methodologies.  First, a reduction objective at the European level is  determined (reduction of European GHG by 30% in 2030  compared to the level obtained in 1990), which translates  into a carbon value (200 EUR/t CO2) that is identical  for all economic sectors and countries. The implementation  of the carbon value has, through behavioural  changes in consumption and technology choice, an impact  on the Belgian energy system and its CO2 and GHG  emissions that differs according to the energy policy  context, i.e. whether there is access to  nuclear power or  not.

Second, a Belgian objective is specified (reduction of Belgian  energy-related CO2 emissions by 15% in 2030 compared  to 1990). Again, in this case, different energy policy  options (access to nuclear power, to carbon capture  and storage or to neither) can help to realise this target:.  The reduction principle stays the same: objective carbon  value change in the behaviour of the energy producers  and consumers (consumption, technology choice) in  such a way that the objective is met.

The third methodology considers the impact of energy  efficiency. The Energy Efficiency Green Paper of 2005  stated that with today’s technology, it is possible to save  around 20% of European energy consumption by an increase  in energy efficiency on a cost-effective basis. Several  directives have been adopted that, when fully implemented,  will help to exploit large parts of this  potential. The modelling of this effi-scenario assumes  the full implementation of these directives.

Main results

Some key results of the three types of scenarios (1 baseline,  5 emission reduction scenarios and 1 energy efficiency  scenario) are briefly described. For the emission  reduction scenarios, the national requirements for natural  gas and the share of RES rise the most when nuclear  energy is not part of the energy mix. The non-nuclear  emission reduction scenarios also have the lowest energy  consumption. When nuclear energy is allowed, the  production (and consumption) of electricity augments  the most.  The impact of the effi-scenario can mainly be seen in the  final energy consumption and in the electricity generation  (that, in its turn, influences the natural gas’ needs).  The share of RES in national energy consumption and  electricity production changes only slightly compared  to the baseline.

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