Mining energyThe federal government has announced an energy tax transition as part of the National Energy and Climate Plan. By partially shifting electricity tariffs towards natural gas, the energy transition must be promoted. suggests Quinn Vanthornout, senior researcher at VITO and EnergyVille Mijnenergie.be The Impact on Your Energy Bill examines how the tax shift encourages investments in sustainable energy.
Written by Kurt Deman, in collaboration with Mijnenergie
“There is a broad scientific consensus that the future is electric and renewable,” says Vanthoornot. “That’s why the government is promoting electric cars and heat pumps, including subsidies and renewal obligations. But for consumers, consumption costs still have the biggest influence on decision-making. And here’s the problem: in any case, natural gas appears cheaper than electricity.”
Tax shift of 50 percent
“A contradiction arises between what the government wants to achieve and the distribution of fees: 31% of the electricity bill of an average Flemish household is taxes; for gas it is only 16%. Gas is actually subsidized compared to electricity,” says Koen Vanthornout.
The federal government wants to do something about that through the energy tax transition. Concretely, it plans a 50% shift from excise taxes on electricity to excise taxes on fossil fuels, natural gas and propane. This intervention will be implemented step by step, with modifications in July 2028, July 2030, and July 2032.
Save 85 euros, but…
“Indirect charges are part of the charges on your energy bill,” Quinn points out. In total, these fees represent about 16% of the electricity bill and 9% of the natural gas bill. A household with an average consumption pays an annual electricity bill of 1,325 euros according to October energy prices. Customs duties are approximately 173 euros. At current energy prices, the 50 percent tax shift would save approximately €85 in electricity costs in 2023. The natural gas bill will rise to compensate.”
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Is that enough for a real transition?
The question, of course, is whether this measure will be enough to convince more people to choose a heat pump. Vanthoornot lets the numbers speak for themselves: he calls it a partial correction with a distant future horizon. The expert also acknowledges that the transition from natural gas heating to a heat pump is less straightforward for low-income families. “We also see the same phenomenon when choosing an electric vehicle. Therefore, I do not view the tax shift as a panacea, but as part of a package of measures that stimulate and facilitate the shift towards renewable energy.
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Koen Vanthoornot also points out the Flemish charges on the energy bill. “This includes public service obligations and allowances. This represents 6.6% of the electricity cost on the bill, versus 0.7% of the cost of natural gas. You can question that percentage, but also the fact that the costs of public lighting and insulation subsidies are part of our energy bill at all.”
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