EnergyVille has published an update of the outlook on the Belgian electricity supply in 2030 and 2050. To this end, it further elaborated on the insights of the various stakeholders with whom they have collaborated in recent years. This new study was made in collaboration with ENGIE, who was responsible for the critical review of the assumptions and scenarios. This study provides insight into a number of specific energy scenarios for Belgium. Without any specific preference for certain technologies, it provides an answer to the question of what our electricity supply could look like in 2030 and beyond, and what effect this might have on the energy production and costs of the electrical energy system. The strength of the method used is that the scenarios are calculated with the aim of minimising the total system cost for the provision in all sectors.
The questions addressed in this study are:
- What will our electricity production look like in 2030 and subsequent years, taking into account the broad framework of renewable and climate ambitions in the most cost-optimal way?
- How will the extension of 2 nuclear power plants by 10 or 20 years affect the further Belgian electricity supply until 2050?
- What is the impact of developments and decisions in neighbouring countries on the Belgian electricity system?
- What role does each technology play in the scenarios and what is the impact on the CO2 emissions and costs of the electricity system?
The EnergyVille TIMES-model
For this new study, the EnergyVille TIMES model was updated. The model is a techno-economic model for the general Belgian energy system, including all production and demand sectors. This new study also included the electricity system of our neighbouring countries (France, Germany, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom) with interconnections. The model calculates different scenarios based on the evolution of technical and economic parameters and searches for the most cost-effective solution to meet the demand for energy services. The model structurally does not take the investor's perspective into account. There is no focus on how investments can be financed, or in other words existing subsidies for the various technologies are not included in the model. Green energy certificates and capacity renumeration mechanisms (CRM) are therefore out of scope. After all, this is a form of financing that is borne by society.
For this study, 2 long-term paths were developed, each consisting of 3 scenarios. In each of these paths, 2050 is the time horizon, with 2026 and 2030 as target years. A CO2 price is imposed on all sectors (electricity production, industry, buildings, transport) that rises to €84/ton in 2030 and €160/ton in 2050.
In each of the 2 pathways, a central scenario is developed in which the anticipated nuclear closure in Belgium is modelled. In addition, there are 2 scenarios with the option to invest in the exploitation extension of 2 nuclear power plants (2 GW) by 10 or 20 years.
- Current renewable ambitions: A number of restrictions are imposed on the annual growth of onshore wind energy (+250 MW/year), in line with current real-life observations. Offshore wind is limited to 4.6 GW in total. Investments in PV are not limited. The growth of renewable energy in our neighbouring countries is aligned with the results of the TYNDP scenarios (Europe's Network Development Plan to 2025, 2030 and 2040 of EntsoE).
- High renewable ambitions: In this long-term path, the potential growth of renewable sources is analysed if the cost price of PV were to drop sharply and the lifespan of batteries were to increase significantly from 2035. In addition, in this scenario a stronger growth of onshore wind from 2040 is permitted (+500 MW/year) and the capacity of offshore wind will be increased to 6 GW in Belgium.
Long term pathway 1: Current renewable ambitions
The expected loss of thermal capacity (closure of coal-fired power stations, nuclear and old gas-fired power stations) in our neighbouring countries (-72 GW) and in Belgium (-7.4 GW) in the period 2020-2030 is significant. In addition, we foresee strong growth in renewable capacity (+ 219 GW in Germany, France, the Netherlands and UK). Both evolutions have an important impact on the results of the analysis. In Belgium, a cost-optimal development of onshore (4.6 GW in 2030) and offshore wind (4.6 GW in 2030) is taking place in addition to investments in PV (12.6 GW in 2030). The optimal level of investment in new gas-fired power plants with a complete nuclear shutdown is 3.85 GW according to the model, or approximately 5 large 800 MW gas-fired power plants.
Extending the exploitation of 2 nuclear power plants (2 GW) will lead to lower investments in and deployment of new gas-fired power stations. An extension of 10 years reduces the investments to 2.7 GW, 20 years to 2.1 GW. In a scenario with a 20-year lifespan extension, the model anticipates the growth in renewable capacity after 2035 and it is cost-efficient to invest less in gas-fired power stations now.
Nuclear extension reduces the need for investments in gas-fired power stations and has a limited impact on investments in renewable energy
Belgium will import about 10% of the electricity demand annually (8.8 TWh) when the nuclear power stations are completely closed. Extending the exploitation of 2 nuclear power plants (2 GW) will reduce these imports to 7.4-9% of the annual electricity demand (6.5-8 TWh).
Renewable electricity production amounts to 50% of the total production in 2030
HKeeping 2 nuclear power stations open longer has a limited impact on investments in renewable energy. In all scenarios, renewable electricity production will increase to 50% of the total Belgian production by 2030. The closure of the nuclear power plants means that the CO2 emissions of the Belgian electricity system will peak in 2026 due to the increase in production from gas-fired power plants. The growth in renewable production means that emissions will fall sharply from 2030, also in the central scenario with complete nuclear shutdown. Nuclear exploitation extension means that the CO2 emissions of the electricity sector will be significantly lower, especially in the period up to 2030, due to the lower use of gas-fired power stations. In the period after 2035, gas-fired power stations will perform fewer operating hours due to the higher share of renewable energy. The impact of nuclear extension on CO2 emissions will therefore be smaller. We estimate the total CO2 reduction with a 10-year extension at 25 Mton, for a 20-year extension at 45 Mton compared to the central scenario.
A 10-year nuclear extension reduces the CO2 emissions of the electricity sector by 25 Mton, a 20-year extension by 45 Mton over the entire period.
The extension of 2 nuclear power stations will reduce the annual cost of the Belgian electricity system by 106-134 M€. The cost savings are less than the previous EnergyVille studies showed, mainly due to the lower costs for natural gas, investment costs for gas power plants and renewable technology. The impact of nuclear renewal on the wholesale price of electricity is limited. The TIMES model shows that the wholesale price will increase to about € 70/MWh by 2030. Nuclear extension reduces this price by about €1/MWh..
Nuclear extension reduces the annual cost of the electricity system by 106 to 134 million euro. Effect on the wholesale price is €1 /MWh
Long term path 2: High renewable ambitions
66% of the Belgian electricity production will be based on renewable energy in 2030.
The European long-term ambitions as described in the “green deal” go further than what we have calculated in the "current renewable ambition scenarios". In these "high renewable ambitions long-term paths", the strong growth of renewable energy in our neighbouring countries and in Belgium means that our electricity system will look very differently. In the Belgian electricity system, we see an increase to more than 43 GW of PV in 2040, 10 GW of onshore wind and 6 GW of offshore wind. The need for new gas-fired power stations in the short term will fall to 2.7 GW in 2026. 66% of Belgian electricity production will be based on renewable energy in 2030. The CO2 emissions from the electricity sector will decrease by 6.3 Mton (-42%) between 2020 and 2030 and will amount to 3.5 Mton in 2040.
Need for more import in the short term and day/night battery storage in the longer term..
The importance of interconnection with our neighboring countries and import will increase between now and 2030. We see 20% import of our electricity demand in 2030. An extension of the operating life of 2 nuclear power plants (2 GW) will reduce these import to about 13% of the electricity demand . In addition, the model shows a very strong increase in day / night battery storage, to about 13 GW by 2045.
Strong electrification of demand in most sectors.
The wholesale price of electricity will increase to around €64/MWh in 2030, but will then fall sharply to €46/MWh in 2040. As a result, the electricity demand in end sectors such as transport, buildings and industry will increase sharply. We record an increase of 28% to 106 TWh in 2040 compared to current electricity demand and 10% compared to the "current renewable ambitions central scenario". The number of hours on an annual basis where the wholesale price falls below € 20/MWh will increase to 4300h/year in 2040. This increases the profitability of long-term/seasonal storage, for example in the form of "Power-to-molecules" including hydrogen.
Exploitation extension of 2 nuclear power stations has the same impact as in the "current renewable ambition" scenarios. Fewer investments are made in gas-fired power stations and the impact on investments in renewable energy and storage is negligible.
These updated energy scenarios attempt to give an objective picture of the effects of the various parameters on the future electricity system, each time from a perspective of the lowest total economic impact for the country. With this quantitative analysis, EnergyVille wants to support industry and our governments and provide the latest objective data.
More recent insights were made available in the PATHS2050 platform.