The sun has been shining on Belgium, as 2020 was the country’s strongest year ever for solar deployment. For the first time, Belgium installed more than 1 GW of solar within a 12-month period, and this occurred in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the Belgian solar national association APERe, cumulative solar installations in the country now exceeds 6 GW in terms of total capacity. The majority of solar in 2020 was installed in the Flanders region (80%), with 15% installed in Wallonia and the remainder in the capital city, Brussels.
In Flanders, new capacity was driven primarily by the residential segment, which grew 45% in comparison to the previous year. One of the main reasons for the rise in installation is a favourable regulatory framework, which allows small system owners a 15-year grace period before new smart metering obligations come into force. The opposite trend developed in Wallonia, where a significant decrease in industrial and utility-scale segments reduced installed capacity compared to the previous year.
Currently, the Belgian National Energy and Climate Plan (NECP) requires the country to reach approximately 8 GW of solar capacity by 2030. But in light of these recent strong market developments, solar ambition could easily be increased. Since the solar PV target will be reached well ahead of the end of the decade, rather than plateau, Belgium now has the opportunity to increase its presence as a leading GW market.
Some procedural changes that could ease development are detailed in SolarPower Europe’s assessment of the Belgian NECP. If administrative procedures were improved, as well as the current fragmentation of auctions’ regulatory framework, the solar sector in Belgium can continue to flourish and help the country achieve its overall energy and climate targets.
Photo: Black solar panels on the roof of a Flemish house, Roeselare, Belgium.
Credit: DDH Image