We are currently going through an unprecedented period of crisis for individuals and businesses. Never in the past 60 years have we had to deal with so many constraints in our daily lives. First there was the Covid crisis which impacted our lifestyle and consumption habits. Today, we are hit hard by a tsunami of energy costs. The electricity bills of our companies have sometimes tripled or even quadrupled within a span of 1 year. Gas and heating oil prices have more than doubled.

A situation that is all the more tense for Belgium and for its companies as our country is largely energy dependent. In 2019, Belgium's energy dependency, calculated as the ratio between net imports and energy consumption, was 76.7%.
Faced with this situation, some are fatalistic. Others question our global energy policy. There is an alternative attitude that allows you to act rather than suffer. Decide to become (partially) autonomous. It is possible and it is desirable. But there is urgency!

This is possible, because today there are solutions that allow companies and society in general to reduce their dependence on these uncontrollable external factors (conflict, OPEC decision, shortages, etc.) by increasing their energy autonomy. Many Belgian companies and Belgians have large areas (roofs, land, car parks) which are little or not productive. They could be quickly if we installed solar power plants there that would produce energy for free for 20 to 30 years.

Yes, for free! The huge advantage of the solar solution is that only the initial installation costs. There is then no longer any dependence on fluctuations in fuel prices, there is very little maintenance, it is highly reliable and the lifespan is long. Belgium has all the resources to get serious about it and thus have energy produced locally, at a fixed cost and which would allow it to increase its energy autonomy.

This is all the more desirable as some of the world's major powers have understood the advantages of this solution. 10 years ago, China exported 95% of the solar panels it manufactured. Today, more than half its production is destined for domestic use. China has decided to invest massively in solar and wind power. The reasons are not ecological, but economic. The Chinese have thus moved from an opportunistic to a strategic approach. In less than 10 years, thanks to solar and wind power, China will have acquired a major competitive advantage, as this part of its energy production will have become free. It will be less dependent on the market and, above all, will be able to continue to offer extremely competitive products in terms of price, as energy costs will have become virtually nil.

Lastly, it is urgent to opt for solar energy for environmental reasons. The IPCC's latest report, published at the end of February, leaves no doubt as to the global awareness of climate change. The worsening of the situation and the irreversible nature and impact of the changes underway oblige us all, business leaders and ordinary citizens alike, to take responsibility.

Solar energy is inexhaustible and green, and figures are sometimes better than long speeches. Here are a few practical examples:

  • One solar panel produces enough energy each year to drive an electric car 2,000 km.
  • In other words, 8 panels are enough to cover the average total consumption of a car (15,000 km/year), and the same 8 panels cover the average electricity consumption of a typical Belgian household (3,500 kWh/year, according to Creg, Commission de Régulation de l'Électricité et du Gaz).
  • One solar panel saves the equivalent of 115 liters of diesel or 100 m3 of gas in a thermal power plant every year.
  • you can pay back the initial investment in a photovoltaic system in 5 to 7 years, and the electricity produced thereafter will be totally free of charge.
  • the minimum lifespan of a photovoltaic solar system is 25 to 30 years.

Source: Le Vif


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