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Renewable energy generation

Renewable energy equals energy that does not affect any “stocks” of limited resources. The potential in terms of renewable energy generation within the Region's territory is very limited.
In 2013, the primary production of energy from renewable sources in the Brussels-Capital Region amounted to 633.9 GWh (of which 261.6 was from imported fuels), which accounted for 397.6 GWh actually consumable (net electricity, heating and fuel).
The largest share of electricity and heating within this production comes from the operation of biomass (67% and 69% respectively).
The main source of renewable energy for transport is "bio" fuel.

Context

Renewable energy is energy which exploitation doesn't affect any “stocks” of limited resources (solar radiation, wind power, geothermal heat, run-of-the-river hydroelectricity, ocean waves). From an environmental perspective, this type of energy is mainly fruitful because it cuts down the use of fossil fuels and its resulting emissions. This contributes to the initiatives set to meet the Kyoto protocol as well as to the other commitments on a European and international level aimed at reducing the greenhouse gas emissions after 2012.

Renewable energy in the Brussels Region

The Brussels-Capital Region is a small territory which is densely populated. The potential for local energy production from renewable sources is therefore extremely limited. Nonetheless, the Region has witnessed an encouraging evolution in recent years. As such, the primary production of energy from renewable sources in the Brussels-Capital Region was estimated at 372.3 GWh in 2013. Additionally, 261.6 GWh of renewable primary energy was produced from vectors imported into the Region (90% from wood, as well as biofuels).

The total (633.9 GWh) accounted for 399.8 GWh of gross energy production (gross electricity, heating and fuel; representing 397.6 GWh actually consumable or expressed as net production).

Evolution of the primary production of energy from renewable sources in the territory of the Brussels Region
Source: Regional energy balance for the year 2013 (inventory reported in 2015) – progress report on primary production

1. Renewable electricity
The net production of renewable electricity in the Brussels-Capital Region was 106.1 GWh in 2013.

There are two circuits which ensure the steadily increasing generation of electricity from renewable energy sources: biomass and solar panels.

The majority (67% in 2013) of the electricity generated from renewable sources within the BCR comes from the exploitation of biomass, which can take various shapes:

  • Solid: waste, specifically the organic fraction of the white bags which are treated by the waste incinerator of Neder-Over-Heembeek (the incinerator is connected to a turbine with a capacity of 45 MW). In 2013, this method was used to treat nearly 440,000 tonnes of household waste, the organic fraction of which amounted to 56% according to a content analysis of the bin bags. This generated approximately 63 GWh of renewable energy.
  • Fluid: rapeseed oil which is used in cogeneration plants. This biofuel is imported, but is enhanced in the territory of the Region and therefore considered as being produced locally. 1.8 GWh of net renewable electricity was therefore produced in this way.
  • Gaseous: biogas derived from the digestion of sewage sludge on the site of wastewater treatment plant North, which is run by Aquiris and where part of the Region's waste water is treated. This gas is also used in cogeneration plants. 6.3 GWh of net renewable electricity was therefore produced in this way.

Since 2007, electricity generation through solar panels has been on the rise. More than 35.1 GWh was reportedly generated in 2013, accounting for 33% of the generation of renewable electricity in the BCR. The growth observed in 2013 can be explained essentially by major new installations installed within or by private companies.

Evolution of the aggregate capacity and of the total generation through solar panels in the Brussels Region
Source: Regional energy balance for the year 2013 (inventory reported in 2015)  – interim report on primary production


2.  Renewable heat

The renewable circuits for heat (and cold) generation in the Brussels-Capital Region are solar energy (solar thermal energy), biomass (fluid, solid and gaseous) and heat pumps. The amount of energy generated for heating purposes is logically linked to weather conditions.

Renewable heat production amounted to 93.4 GWh in 2013. Solid biomass accounted for the main source (69% in 2013).

Evolution of the regional circuits for the gross generation of heat/cold from renewable energy sources in the Brussels Region (2005-2013)
Source: Regional energy balance for the year 2013 (inventory reported in 2015) – interim report on primary production

As a reminder: the higher the number of heating degree days (DD 15/15), the colder the year


3. Renewable energy in the transport sector

The main source of renewable energy used by transport is biofuels (biodiesel and bioethanol imported into the BCR) integrated into road fuels and sold at the pump (imported into the Brussels Region, in quantities estimated from Belgian sales at 198.1 GWh in 2013).

Renewable energy and the gross final internal energy consumption

European directive 2009/28/EC on the promotion of the use of energy from renewable sources established the objective that 20% of final gross energy consumption should come from renewable sources by 2020. Since the burden was shared according to the characteristics of the various Member States, Belgium has the objective of reaching 13% renewable energy in its gross consumption of total energy, and 10% in the transport sector. The share of the Brussels Region was determined in the context of this burden sharing and represents energy consumption from renewable sources of 0.073 MTOE by 2020.

To produce this calculation, the Directive introduced the notion of gross domestic consumption which is the total final consumption increased by the internal consumption of electricity and heating in power stations, as well as losses on the network. Since data relating to cooling in the Region was not available, they are not included in the calculation.

Following the methodology of the directive 2009/28/EC, the gross production of renewable energy envisaged corresponds to the primary energy produced from renewable sources (detailed above, 399.8 GWh in 2013), added to which is an estimate of the electricity consumption from renewable sources used in rail transport (estimated at 65.9 GWh), for a total of 466 GWh (or 0.04 MTOE).  

As such, in 2013, the share of renewable energy in the gross domestic consumption of the Region, within the meaning of Directive 2009/28/EC (gross production of renewable energy/gross domestic consumption, or 466 GWh/22,584 GWh) was 2.06%. This share has been growing since 2006. However, it should be emphasised that the spike observed between 2008 and 2009 for transport can be explained by a change to the estimating method for the electricity consumption from renewable sources for rail transport.

Evolution of the share of renewable energy (as defined in directive 2009/28/EC) in the gross final internal energy consumption of the Brussels Region
Source: Regional energy balance for 2013 (inventory reported in 2015)– interim report on primary production

Date de mise à jour: 13/11/2018