Green ambitions recipe for tension with Flanders


Vivaldi takes a different direction in climate and energy than purple-yellow. With the nuclear exit as the flagship, and higher ambitions in the reduction of CO2 emissions as the biggest challenge.

‘No comment.’ Engie / Electrabel, the owner of the Belgian nuclear power plants, has not yet reached a decision on the closure of its nuclear power plants. In any case, five of the seven power stations were closed between 2022 and 2025. It has now been decided that the last two will also be shut down definitively in 2025.

Only one small back gate is still open. If at the end of November next year it turns out that an unexpected problem in cost price or security of supply arises, the government can still decide to keep two power stations open.

The question is whether Engie / Electrabel is prepared to keep that option open. Studies indicate that both options, keeping nuclear power plants open or closing, are macro-economically possible. However, the decision must be made urgently.

The support mechanism for gas-fired power stations and other installations should provide for the timely construction of replacement capacity. The agreement, which was approved broadloom this spring at the instigation of Groen and N-VA, is being implemented. This means that the bill, which will appear on the electricity bill from 2025, will be offset by lowering other charges on the bill.

Investments in energy transition

The nuclear exit does not mean that Belgium gives up its nuclear ambitions completely. The federal government wants to turn the know-how in decommissioning nuclear power plants into an export product. The Myrrha project, the prototype of a nuclear reactor powered by a particle accelerator, is being prepared for a second and third phase. Nuclear research institutions such as SCK and IRE want to continue to support the government.

The federal government announces decisions on long-term waste from nuclear power plants. The fund into which Electrabel has to pay the provisions for the closure of the nuclear power plants, the Synatom fund, the government wants to review. The fund is now placed with a subsidiary of Electrabel. The intention is to get it out of there.

Most of the money is still on loan to Electrabel itself. The company is committed to paying back the money by 2025. The government is investigating whether it can be lent to investments for the energy transition.

More wind energy at sea

In climate, Vivaldi supports the higher climate ambitions of the European Commission, which wants to reduce CO2 emissions by at least 55 percent by 2030, instead of 40 percent today. It is also committed to adapting the Belgian Energy and Climate Plan if requested by Europe.

The potential conflict with the Flemish government is obvious. In order to realize the higher ambition, the federal government needs proper consultation with the regions, where the majority of the powers lie. But the Flemish government already considers the current targets to be particularly ambitious and does not even include them in the current Flemish climate plan.

The federal government does have competence for wind turbines at sea, and it sets the bar higher there. The second zone of wind turbines off the Belgian coast, good for 2.2 GW, must be realized as soon as possible. The government is expecting 2025-2026 for the connection to the electricity grid. If possible, Belgium will invest in wind turbines even outside its territorial waters, further up the North Sea.

Budget-neutral, green tax

The new government also wants to make taxes greener, with a CO2 tax or a comparable fiscal control instrument for the use of fossil fuels. This measure must be budget neutral, and the proceeds go back to the population and the companies.

Fossil fuel cars are gradually being banned. There is also a date on this for company cars: from 2026 all new company cars must be free of greenhouse gases.

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