Belgian PM: 'Heating or lights don't go off in our country'

Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) and Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Groen) have faced fierce criticism over their energy policy in parliament, as a recent report shows that there could be a shortage of 900 to 1,600 MW at peak times in coming winters. Yet prime minister De Croo says there is nothing to fear. In fact, according to him, other European countries no longer have blackouts, thanks to Belgium.

"In some countries, the question is: how will we get through this winter? In our country, we are looking three winters ahead. Why? Because this government is playing it safe," Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo (OpenVLD) argued during a parliamentary discussion about the current energy policy.

Energy report

The reason for the parliamentary discussion was a report by high-voltage grid operator Elia and gas grid operator Fluxys, which showed that a shortage of 900 to 1,600 MW could occur at peak times in the coming winters. According to the prime minister, they were asked to outline the worst-case scenario. "We asked Elia: what should our country do in that worst-case scenario so as not to be dependent on other countries?"

According to De Croo, Belgium is doing better than its neighbours. "Other European countries are having a very different discussion this winter. In Germany, they are working on an industrial switch-off plan. In Switzerland, there are plans to forbid electric cars from driving this winter. In other countries, they are working on expanding the most polluting power plants, coal plants, over time."

"Those countries are not experiencing blackouts today thanks to our firm energy policies"

Those plans are unnecessary for Belgium, De Croo argued. "Some of those countries do not have a blackout today, thanks to whom? Thanks to our country. Those countries are not experiencing blackouts today thanks to our firm energy policies. Those are the facts," De Croo argued.

Horror winter

With his statement, De Croo is referring to France, which is experiencing a horror winter, according to Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten. "Belgium, ​ traditionally an importer to France, is exporting to France today. We are talking about 2.8 gigawatts. That means that in our country, two power plants are permanently running to supply France with energy," she said.

Based on Elia's report, the Energy minister will now look for a solution to a possible shortage in the winter of 2025-2026. "For the winter of 2025 and 2026, we count on Doel 4 and Tihange 3, on which we are now negotiating with Engie and have the determination to reach an agreement." That should happen before the end of the year.


Energy minister Tinne Van der Straeten and Prime Minister Alexander De Croo pictured during a plenary session of the Chamber at the Federal Parliament in Brussels on Thursday 08 December 2022.

© BELGA PHOTO Bruno Fahy


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