In 2022, Belgium’s economy was ranked 24th in the world in gross domestic product (GDP). The country’s economy is dependent on the export of cars, packaged medicaments, vaccines, refined petroleum, diamonds, frozen vegetables, looms, and zinc powder.
In 2003, Belgium’s government committed to close all the nation’s nuclear power plants by 2025, even though nuclear energy generates zero greenhouse gas emissions.
In 2009, Belgium as a member of the European Union (EU) committed to the “Renewable Energy Directive,” which requires each country to use renewable energy for 27% of its total energy needs by 2030.
In 2016, Belgium as a member of the EU signed the “Paris Climate Agreement”. The EU committed to a 40% reduction in greenhouse gas emission by 2030 compared to 1990 levels.
Power Generation Capabilities
In 2021, utilities used nuclear energy (51.0 %), renewable energy (23.7 %), natural gas (21.5 %), oil (3.7 %), and coal (0.1 %) to generate electricity in Belgium. Wind, solar, and biomass are the primary types of renewable energy used to generate electricity in Belgium.
Recent renewable energy projects in Belgium include:
- 487 MW Offshore Wind Project – In October 2021, Belgium company, SeaMade NV commissioned the SeaMade offshore wind project at a site approximately 35 miles off the Belgium coast.
- 7 MW Floating Solar Project – In September 2020, Belgium company, Floating Solar commissioned a floating solar project on a lake located approximately 45 miles northeast of Brussels.
- 5 MW Floating Solar Project – In January 2022, French solar company HelioRec commissioned a floating solar project at the Port of Oostende approximately 70 miles northwest of Brussels.
- 0.5 Floating Solar Project – German utility RWE and Dutch floating solar company, SolarDuck are continuing work on a floating solar pilot project near to an offshore wind farm in the North Sea, off the coast of Ostend, Belgium. The pilot project is scheduled to be completed by year-end 2023.
Belgium imports virtually all oil and natural gas for power generation, heating, and transportation. In 2020, Belgium spent U.S. $11.2 Billion for imported refined petroleum and U.S. $3.7 Billion for imported crude oil.
On 24 February 2022, Russia invaded Ukraine, resulting in the European Union, United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Japan, and South Korea placing embargos on Russian exports. As a result, the international price for crude oil and natural gas increased by over 50% from May 2021 to May 2022.
In 2020, Belgium imported 4% to 6%d of the nation’s natural gas from Russia. The majority of Belgium’s natural gas is imported by pipeline from Norway and as liquified natural gas (LNG) from Qatar.
However, nuclear power which generates zero-greenhouse gases, generated 51.0 % of Belgium’s electricity in 2021. Will Belgium be able to build sufficient new renewable energy projects to offset the power from the closure of the nation’s nuclear power plants in 2025?
Belgium has significant undeveloped offshore wind, solar, onshore wind, and biomass resources. However, it is unlikely Belgium will be able to build sufficient new renewable energy projects over the next three years to replace 51.0% of the nation’s electricity.
Belgium is faced with an energy conundrum, and it isn’t associated with embargos on Russian oil and gas imports.
Website – “Our Energy Conundrum”
Jack Kerfoot is a scientist, energy expert, and author of the book FUELING AMERICA, An Insider’s Journey and articles for The Hill, one of the largest independent political news sites in the United States. He has been interviewed on over 100 radio and television stations from New York City to Los Angeles on numerous energy related topics.
 World Bank, Access To Electricity (% Population) – Belgium
 Gross Domestic Product By Country 2022 – Worldometer
 The Observatory of Economic Complexity (OEC) – Belgium
 Carbon Brief – “2015: Tracking Country Climate Pledges”
 Our World In Data, Kingdom of Belgium: Energy Country Profile by Hanna Ritchie and Max Roser