Currently, power companies all over our country are planning to build new fossil gas-fired power plants and expand existing gas plants. Indeed, the federal government has announced generous subsidies for this purpose. This is in order to make the nuclear transition of 2025 possible.
In no less than 8 different places in Flanders and Wallonia, energy companies are currently applying for permits to be able to compete for subsidies in October of this year.
We oppose this subsidized, new fossil infrastructure. New fossil gas plants are unnecessary, a catastrophe for the climate, socially unjust and undemocratic!
The industry would like us to believe that a complete nuclear phase-out in 2025 would endanger our security of supply, but this is not the case.
Even without nuclear power plants, Belgium has sufficient generation capacity to continue supplying us at peak times (i.e. during extremely cold days).
This is confirmed by a study by energy regulator CREG. Due to climate change, winters are less harsh. As a result, the peak demand for electricity can be fully met by existing power plants.
And even if we still have to deal with extreme cold peaks in the future, we don't need to fear that the lights will go out: were such a case to occur, it'd be perfectly possible to give priority to households rather than (in many cases non-essential) industrial activities, which consume as much as 50% of the electricity generated in our country.
Natural gas is a fossil fuel and, like coal and oil, emits CO2 when burned. During extraction, transportation, storage, and consumption, a lot of fossil gas also leaks into the atmosphere. More than 80% of natural gas consists of methane, a greenhouse gas which is 86 times more harmful than CO2 during its first 20 years in the atmosphere.
Industry would like us to believe that fossil gas is 'clean' because its emissions, when burned, are lower than those from coal or oil. But over the entire production cycle, gas is just as harmful. Clean fossil gas is therefore a dirty lie.
Moreover, gas plants built now will run for at least 25 years - and will be supported by subsidies for at least 15 years - which means we are chaining ourselves to this fossil infrastructure for decades.
400,000 Belgian households live in energy poverty. At the same time, the government wants all households to contribute to subsidies to build new fossil gas power plants. This is likely to cost at least 250 million euros per year, over a period of 15 years.
Citizens are not involved in the decision to build new fossil gas infrastructure. Local residents are hardly asked whether they are waiting for a huge industrial compound in their backyard.
At the federal level, it is only a handful of players who dominate the debate, including the large energy companies and grid manager Elia. They fill debates with technical jargon and references to Kafkaesque reports, leaving laypeople and outsiders struggling to grasp the issue.
As regulator CREG showed, Elia's calculations are biased in favor of new gas power plants, which should come as no surprise: Elia has a direct financial interest in connecting such additional power plants, and thus cannot be considered an independent party.