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Environmental Outlook 2018: Background document Solution Paths for the Energy System

Issue 29-11-2018This research was carried out as part of the ‘Environmental Outlook 2018’ and provided the necessary scientific underpinning.

Flanders' current energy system runs almost entirely on fossil fuels and nuclear energy. The bulk of this energy is readily available, reliable and affordable, but leads to persistent social problems such as greenhouse gas emissions, air pollution, radioactive waste and high dependence on imported energy. Europe and Flanders aim to address this by focusing on a sustainable energy transition. 

To reduce the (ecological) impact of the energy system and urge the emerging energy transition forward, there are four major solution paths that could help to achieve these goals. We must:

  • save energy through behavioural change;
  • save energy by increasing energy efficiency;
  • optimise energy demand and energy supply in a sustainable manner;
  • and match energy demand and energy supply.

Within each solution path, a wide variety of solutions are possible. Many of these solutions are already being applied but will have to be scaled up. Others are still under development and are already being applied in certain niche markets, and still others are in the early research phase. For each solution, the study maps the extent to which it is already applied, its potential for the future, and the extent to which the solution contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gases and other air pollutants. Where relevant, other potential environmental impacts are discussed as well. The feasibility of the solutions was assessed based on their societal affordability and acceptability.

From all these possible solutions, the most desirable and feasible solutions were selected. These were then grouped under three transition paths:

  • sustainability of low temperature heating and cooling in the built environment;
  • sustainability of energy supply and of (medium) high temperature heating in industry;
  • matching energy supply and demand.

The information for this report was collected through literature review, surveys of experts and expert workshops.

Read the English summary of the Dutch background document ‘Solution Paths for the Energy System’

Study commissioned by MIRA, Flanders Environment Report

researchers: Erik Laes, Pieter Lodewijks, Nele Renders, Marlies Vanhulsel, Pieter Vingerhoets (VITO/EnergyVille); Jo Goossens, Kris Ooms (shiftN)

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