Belgium places a high priority on sustainable, responsible energy use and is a leader in the EU in developing “green” energies. The Ministry of Energy, Living Environment and Sustainable Development has the mandate to ensure Belgium’s energy security today and to prepare for the country’s energy needs in the future while also responding to environmental and regulatory challenges. Marie-Christine Marghem, Minister, discusses her vision for Belgium’s energy sector.
European Times: What is your main goal for Belgium’s energy sector?
Marie-Christine Marghem: Belgium is facing important energy challenges, as are most EU member states.
All European countries must urgently make serious efforts to counter global warming and limit greenhouse-gas emissions.
The Europe 2030 Climate and Energy Framework and the Paris Agreement, adopted in Paris in December 2015 and set to be implemented by 2020, limit global warming to well below 2°C, which should help to alleviate climate change. For our country, complying with these new regulations means an additional shift in the energy mix. To achieve this goal while also keeping consumer prices for electricity manageable, I am working on an inter-federal energy pact which I will discuss with leaders of all Belgium’s regions. The regions are responsible for on-shore renewable-energy facilities.
European Times: What are some other important projects for your ministry?
Marie-Christine Marghem: As Minister of Energy, it is my duty to guarantee secure, affordable and sustainable energy supplies. Security of supplies is the major challenge for Belgium. To achieve this security, we will operate the Doel 1 and Doel 2 nuclear-power plants for ten additional years, to 2025. We are also strengthening energy connections between Belgium and neighbouring countries. For example, the BRABO project with the Netherlands will add 1000 MW to our existing capacity, while the NEMO Link connection with the UK, which will be implemented in 2019, will add an additional 1000 MW to our energy supplies.
Both projects contribute to the ultimate goal of a European energy union which will ensure affordable, secure and sustainable energy as well as economic growth and jobs.
European Times: Why should foreign investors target Belgium’s energy sector?
Marie-Christine Marghem: The Belgian energy sector is developing rapidly, is very oriented towards innovation and is full of investment potential. Indeed, R&D in the energy sector will be encouraged by Belgium’s new Energy Transition Fund, which will be financed by the contribution paid to the government for Doel 1 and Doel 2.
European Times: What is your personal message about the energy sector?
Marie-Christine Marghem: The energy sector is very challenging as it will play a crucial role in meeting global objectives for a low-carbon society. Several of my predecessors have tried to formulate a long-term energy vision for Belgium, but as different parameters changed over the years, their ideas were unwillingly abandoned. I therefore hope to be able to develop a vision and a strategy that will stand the test of time. For that reason, we will set up a broad stakeholders’ coalition to consolidate the energy strategy which we will develop together.