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Solid biomass in Belgium

General

In the strongly regionalized state of Belgium a distinction can be made between federal policy and regional policy regarding renewable energy sources (RES). The incentive schemes for RES are most dominant at the regional level, while on the federal level the RES policy is imposed in more general terms. Attention for energy saving activities exists at both levels. For electricity, the green certificate trading and quota system has been implemented for both Flanders and Wallonia. The certificates can be traded at regional level or at federal level. The three regional energy agencies are: VIREG (Flemish Region), DGTRE (Walloon Region) and IBGE (Region of Brussels Capital). The main renewable contribution in the Belgian energy mix comes from combustible renewable biomass and waste sources. In Flanders, generation from renewable sources is expected to rise to 6% by 2010, being at 2% in 2004. In Wallonia, the objective for 2010 is a raise to 8% at the horizon 2010. In both regions there is a fast growing electricity generation coming from wind energy. Brussels-Capital has, because of its limited surface and electricity generation capacity, very limited renewable energy facilities, being mainly solar thermal demonstration projects.

Renewable energy projections according to the National Renewable Energy Action Plan for Belgium

The National Renewable Energy Action Plan (NREAP) for Belgium was submitted in December 2010. The target according to Annex I of Directive 2009/28/EC is 13% for the year 2020 and the projected NREAP share in that year exactly matches the target.  According to the projection, the most important contribution in the year 2020 is expected from biomass (renewable heating and cooling) (2034 ktoe, 38% of all renewable energy). Second important contribution is expected from biomass (renewable electricity) (11.0 TWh or 949 ktoe, 18% of all renewable energy). The third largest contribution is from wind power (10.5 TWh or 901 ktoe, 17% of all renewable energy). Wind power contributes with 4.3 GW (10.5 TWh). For solar photovoltaic the 2020 contribution is projected to be 1.3 GW (1.1 TWh). For solar thermal the 2020 contribution is projected to be 199 ktoe. The two most important biofuels are projected to contribute 698 ktoe (biodiesel) and 91 ktoe (bioethanol / bio-ETBE) by 2020. The renewable electricity production from solid biomass amounts to 9.6 TWh (823 ktoe) and for biogas it is expected to be 1.4 TWh (124 ktoe). The consumption of renewable heat is expected to amount to 1947 ktoe for solid biomass and 55 ktoe for biogas.

Renewable heating, cooling and power: solid biomass

Throughout Belgium’s three regions, a subsidy is available for private individuals from the Federal Government for replacing a boiler with more environmental-friendly models, including wood-burning boilers, low temperature boilers and micro-CHP units. The subsidies are available for private individuals’ primary residences (owned or rented). Expenditure on domestic installations of boilers in 2006 is eligible for a tax reduction in the 2007 tax declaration. 40% of the investment is tax deductible, up to a maximum of 1280 EUR for per home. For the enterprises there exists also a deduction fixed in 13,5 % of the investment. In order to be eligible for support, several conditions must be met: a registered installer must perform the installation, Norms EN12809 and EN303-5 concerning conversion efficiency should be met. Furthermore, the boiler’s useful capacity should be at least 60% of its nominal rated power. Additionally, the system should be suitable for wood or wood pellets fed by an automatic mechanism.

Below, the three main regions in Belgium are discussed consecutively.

Wallonia

On February 2006, Wallonia government adopted a modification of the Energy Action Programme 2005-2007. As of March 2006, there are various incentives for biomass installations. The use of biomass is promoted through a tax relief: the investment costs can partly be deducted from the taxable income.

 The producers of certified green electricity receive from the CwaPE green certificates proportional to their electricity production and the reduction of CO2 emissions regarding a value reference for classic installations. The current correspondence for 1 green certificate is 456 kg of CO2 avoided. These certificates can be sold and traded for 5 year from the date of issuing.

 The fine that Belgian electricity suppliers must pay to Wallonia’s energy authority for each ROC missing at the end of each accounting period is 100€. Producers of renewable electricity are assured a minimum price of 65€/ROC since Wallonia’s energy authority will buy certificates at this price.

Flanders

A similar certificate system to Wallonia’s operates in Flanders, though ROCs are not linked to avoided CO2 emissions but to each unit of renewable energy produced. Certificates are granted by the federal regulator (CREG). The manager of the network is obliged to buy the green electricity to the producer at a minimum price fixed according to the technology used. The Green Certificates are based on the accreditation of the energy produced via a guarantee of origin (Royal Decree 16/07/2002). The Flemish energy authority charges for missing ROCs at 125€/MWh.

 Regarding the certificate system several technical changes have occurred during 2007. Formerly, the obligation for renewable electricity was put at the distribution companies. In this way, industrial clients weren’t touched by the obligation system. From 2007 onwards, they have to fulfill the quota as well.

 The average market price for certificates remained relatively stable during 2007 compared to previous years: between 108 and 110 euro.

 In February 2008 the green power quotum was defined by VREG at 4,90% (2.076.119 certificates after adjustments). Previously this was 3.00%. The new quotum resulted in a shortage of almost 15 thousand certificates, equal to a fine of in total more than 45 million euro.

Brussels

No certificate system. Biomass is not the focus technology of the Brussels region.

Future programme changes expected
In Flanders, the target for renewable electricity after 2010 is under debate.

Sources
Interactive EurObserv’ER Database, 2007

Vlaamse Reguleringsinstantie voor de Elektriciteits- en Gasmarkt (VREG), Marktrapport: de Vlaamse energiemarkt in 2007, (sourced August 2008)

The National Renewable Energy Action Plans (NREAPs) are all published on the Transparency Platform on Renewable Energy: http://ec.europa.eu/energy/renewables/transparency_platform/action_plan_en.htm (sourced July - December 2010)

Renewable Energy Projections as Published in the National Renewable Energy Action Plans of the European Member States, http://www.ecn.nl/nreap (sourced December 2010)

Interactive EurObserv’ER Database
http://www.eurobserv-er.org
Last update: December 2010


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