Described here below are the Key Takeaways from the results our Times-Be model came up with, and in an ideal world – where all decisions are made with the goal of achieving objectives at minimal societal cost – this is what the world would look like. Remember, however, what is described here below does not count as a prediction of the future – just as “the best possible world". Our real world will obviously differ from the one here described...
The next few years: little room for additional technology, but preparatory work necessary
The next two years will be characterized by war economy. The structural scarcity of energy – due in part to the war in Ukraine – will hurt economically and financially, and require drastic measures. Development of renewable energy and related infrastructure is a priority, as is renovating the building stock. Investments in the electricity grid and in heat pumps and heat networks will pay off, in conjunction with the phasing out of the gas grid. This will require flexibility: flexibility markets, smart charging and flexibility at the building or industry level.
The 2030 goals: offshore wind, carbon capture and building renovation
Achieving the 2030 goals will mainly require ambitious policies on buildings, investing in infrastructure such as high-voltage grids, but also carbon capture for industry – where carbon is captured and stored or processed so that it does not end up in the atmosphere – and installing renewables, especially wind, as soon as possible. The most economically interesting thing to do is to have oil-fired boilers disappearing from existing buildings even before 2030 and stop further investments in gas boilers. In addition, according to the model, all newly purchased cars are electric. Green hydrogen production, according to the results, plays no significant role before 2030, including in industry.
The 2050 ambitions: counting on innovations, but reasons to be optimistic
It is possible to become climate neutral if offshore wind and solar energy are greatly expanded. To cut the cost, additional access to offshore wind is particularly interesting. The cost can also be reduced by innovations such as small modular nuclear reactors that can play a role as from 2045 onwards (considering that such reactors are still far from market-ready). In the Electrification Scenario, the capacity of these nuclear plants is about the same as the nuclear park before regulatory closures. Without nuclear innovation or other carbon-neutral baseload electricity production, the costs are higher. This is mainly the case because more imports of both electricity and hydrogen are needed for electricity production. In addition, more investments are needed in flexibility options such as smart charging, batteries and green hydrogen plants.
Achieving a climate-neutral Belgium is feasible and affordable
From a technical and societal perspective, a climate-neutral scenario is feasible, and in terms of cost, the energy transition is also affordable. In this study, a comparison was made between climate action and no climate action, and for investments of 2-4% of the gross domestic product (reference 2021), Belgium can become climate-neutral while maintaining its current industrial output. Whether Belgian energy-intensive industries will be able to compete with countries with abundant cheap renewable energy sources is an open question not addressed here. The benefits of climate action – such as fewer natural disasters and a positive impact on air quality and health – were not quantified either.
*Click here for a DUTCH ONLY version of these Key Takeaways.
While the complete results of our study can be found here on our online PATHS 2050 Platform, this didn’t stop our researchers from putting pen to paper to equally produce a full-fledged report, which – in a more descriptive manner – outlines and details investment pathways to reach the 2050 climate targets, including a detailed description of the model setup, the scenarios and the assumptions used.
After an elaborate introduction in Section 1, this report starts out with describing the TIMES modelling framework and – more specific – the TIMES-BE model in Section 2. In Section 3, more background on the storylines and scenarios is presented. Section 4 covers in more detail the demands or production rate, the structure of the base year, the processes implemented in TIMES-BE, as well as the main macroeconomic assumptions. In Section 5, we briefly explain the structure of the power generation sector and the power grid, as well as refineries and the future production of molecules. This chapter includes energy carriers’ price projections and availability of resources. Section 6 discusses the results of the main scenarios. Section 7 then presents the results of sensitivity cases derived from the three main scenarios, exploring the uncertainty of certain assumptions in the model. Finally, in the Conclusion & Discussion Section, we provide a more general analysis of our study’s results, and provide specific conclusions and policy implications.
Click here to dive into this full-fledged report of ours.
As part of the European Union’s Green Deal initiative, the 'Fit-for-55' package was launched with the core aim to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by at least 55% by 2030 relative to 1990 levels. This will put us on track achieving climate neutrality by 2050.
Reaching the 2030 target will have a direct impact on how we live and do business. Practically, the EU focuses on two pillars:
- strengthening the existing EU's emissions trading system (EU ETS) to reach an emission reduction in sectors concerned of 61% by 2030 (compared with 2005).
- member states' emission reduction targets, from 29% to 40% (compared with 2005) based on GDP per capita.
While the EnergyVille TIMES Be model does not make a policy projection or prognosis towards 2030, it does give valuable insights in how Belgium could reach a CO2 reduction target of 55% in a cost-effective way for society. To be able to compare, we take as a starting point the Belgian CO2 emissions of 1990 amounting to 120 million tonnes (excl. net CO2 from LULUCF).
The Central scenario results show that we can reach a 57% reduction by 2030 (52 million tonnes of remaining emissions) when we take climate action in all sectors.
Kort Gezegd (DUTCH ONLY)
Hier vindt u een Kort Gezegd die bedoeld is om onze voornaamste conclusies aan de geïnteresseerde lezer uitgebreid te verduidelijken, zonder dat deze door alle cijfers, grafieken en scenarioresultaten van het hele PATHS 2050 Platform dient te gaan.
U vindt daarin eerst een overzicht van de sectoren waar broeikasgasemissies moeten gereduceerd worden, om vervolgens per sector de weg naar netto nul emissies geschetst te zien.
Klik hier om onze Kort Gezegd volledig door te nemen.