Antwerp votes down fusion of green energy utilities

Summary

Flanders’ energy minister promises that the fusion of the region’s green energy intercommunals is just a matter of time, despite Antwerp province’s decision

Fewer board members

Flemish energy minister Bart Tommelein has promised that a plan to merge Flanders’ green energy providers into one holding company will be realised, despite a veto by Antwerp province’s financing agency IKA.

A few month ago, the government of Flanders approved a proposal to reform intercommunals – utility providers that are owned and run by several cities and towns together. The plan is to merge the energy intercommunals into one for the whole of Flanders.

According to Tommelein, this would be economically advantageous in more ways than one. It would, for example, drastically cut the number of posts held on the boards of the intercommunals. These posts are usually held by members of city councils, who are paid significant fees.

The plan also included investment intercommunals, which the government wants to merge and bring on the market to allow members of the public to take part. IKA is one of six investment intercommunals that was meant to its green energy holdings – in wind turbine parks and solar projects – into the new energy structure, called Zephyr.

But IKA declined because, according to reports, municipal representatives were critical of the government’s top-down approach. It has also been cited that key documents were supplied only three days before the vote.

Four of the six energy intercommunals have already approved the Zephyr structure, according to Tommelein. “The Flemish energy holding company will certainly happen,” he said. “But I seriously regret that IKA does not see the importance of a green energy merger and allows its own interests to come first.”
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: Ingimage

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Sustainable energy

The five main renewable energy sources in Flanders are biomass, biogas, wind energy, solar energy and water power. The renewable energy sector has grown sharply in recent years, with wind and solar energy production especially on the rise.
Agency - The Flemish Energy Agency is responsible for implementing the government’s sustainable energy policies. Its central tasks are to promote rational energy use and environmentally friendly energy production.
Green energy certificates - One of the principal measures to promote sustainable energy are the certificates the Flemish energy regulator (Vreg) awards for electricity generated by renewable energy sources. Since the regulations were tightened in 2012, investments in renewable energy installations have declined.
Obstacles - According to the Flemish Energy Agency, the main challenges in local renewable energy production are the region’s short coast, limited height differences and direct sunlight, and high population density.
11

new wind turbines created in Flanders in 2013

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million kilowattage of green energy in 2012

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percentage of green energy used in Flanders in 2012