Even with a turbo on renewable energy, Belgium can meet only half of its electricity needs by 2050. According to grid operator Elijah, it will have to import wind energy on a large scale.
Installing wind farms and solar panels must at least triple if Europe is to meet its climate goals by 2050. Electricity grid company Elia came to this conclusion in study in which scenarios are developed to achieve net zero CO2 emissions by the second half of the century2 It arrives.
Compared to the past five years, the average annual growth of wind and solar energy should be at least three times. Together with nuclear, hydropower and biomass, Europe will then be able to sustainably cover the entire demand for electricity by 2050.
But the potential for renewable energy is not equally broad in all countries. Partly due to the presence of an energy-intensive industry, Belgium and Germany are the European countries in which the shortage of renewable energy will be greatest by 2050.
In the scenario of a large-scale switch to electric cars, heat pumps and electrification of industrial processes, Belgium’s electricity consumption will double by 2050. Even with the maximum expansion of renewable energy, our country will have to get half of its green electricity from abroad. It would then have to import 80 TWh per year, roughly the same as Belgium’s current total energy consumption.
However, Elijah sees it possible that Belgium will depend almost entirely on renewable energy. He is looking for a choice To get power via cable connections from countries with surplus renewable energy It can be achieved, especially with wind farms in the North Sea. To cover direct energy demand, Belgium must connect to 18 gigawatts of foreign offshore wind capacity, about 5 percent of what is projected in Europe by 2050.
Dealing with lack of energy
The main advantage of Belgium’s large-scale import of wind energy from the UK, Denmark and Norway for example, is that it will help absorb seasonal fluctuations. Especially in the winter – when it’s cold with little wind and sun – Belgium runs the risk of energy shortages. By importing wind energy from countries a little farther away, the chance that there will be enough wind somewhere increases.
Elijah believes that Belgium could be almost entirely dependent on renewable energy. So it is looking at the option of getting power from other countries via cable connections.
More connections between countries could nearly halve the need for standby capacity for long no-wind moments in Europe. In Europe, 240 GW of flexible capacity will be required instead of 400 GW. Ilya is looking, among other things, for battery storage, hydropower, heat storage, biomass, and gas-fired power plants that can run on green hydrogen.
At the same time, the network company stresses that the choice of technology should not be made yet. New technological breakthroughs could provide additional options by 2050. Elia did not mention the technology by name, but Small Nuclear Reactors (SMRs) Much Discussed It will be able to meet part of the need for flexible capacity by then.
Ilya concludes that Europe’s renewable energy potential is large enough to fully cover direct electricity demand. But if the need for hydrogen and other renewable fuels is also taken into account, Europe will have to import from other continents. Especially in Belgium, Elijah sees little potential in renewable energy to produce its own green hydrogen on a large scale.
Ilya asserts that a path where maximum use of electric mobility, heat pump heating, and electrification of industry is made is much more efficient than a path where a significant portion of the energy must come from renewable hydrogen or derived products such as green methanol or ammonia. to produce those Large amounts of green energy are required and much energy is lost in conversion. Three times the energy needed to drive a car and five times more for heating.
If the economy shifts largely to renewable fuels, the total demand for electricity for direct use and for hydrogen production will increase from 6,800 to 8,600 TWh. It would require an additional annual capacity of 400 gigawatts of offshore wind power or three times the current electricity consumption in Germany.
For Belgium, a scenario involving huge imports of green hydrogen from abroad means that it can cover a larger portion of its electricity demand with its own green electricity. It can then generate 78 percent of the 115 TWh of green energy needed. In addition, 210 TWh of green electricity production would be needed abroad to supply Belgium with the needed hydrogen, or 2.5 times Belgium’s total electricity consumption today.
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