Companies, large consumers of electricity, are demanding a clear vision of the energy future in Belgium. And fear dependence on foreign powers.
Neither one qualifies as pro-nuclear. Both Sébastien Dossogne, CEO of Magotteaux, and Juan Murillo, his counterpart from Carmeuse Western Europe, reason above all asmajor customers of electricity producers. “The sensitivity of the debate on the energy mix in Belgium varies terribly according to the degree of energy use. The more we consume, the more we are sensitive to it,” observes Sébastien Dossogne.
The question of the energy mix and, consequently, of the future of nuclear power, is therefore agitating the reflections of these manufacturers.
Like the glass industry, cement factories or, more recently, data centers, the steel industry for Magotteaux and lime production for Carmeuse are (very) greedy in electricity. “This component weighs very heavily, in the top 3 of our cost price“, recognizes the CEO of Magotteaux. The question of the energy mix and, therefore, of the future of nuclear power, is therefore agitating the reflections of these manufacturers.
Belgium is one of the most expensive countries for the kilowatt. “The second after India among the 11 countries in which we produce”, continues Dossogne. Manufacturers can live with a high price, even if, as we can see now, these prices and the wage impact also have an impact on the cost price. “On the other hand, the availability of energy must be infallible. We cannot afford deficiencies in this area,” he says.
And according to manufacturers, energy availability in Belgium can or could pose a problem. Particularly at a time of the reorganization of the energy mix and the announced closure of nuclear power plants. “There are too many dissonant voices right now to have a clear vision of the future. We need a costed plan and precise timing to reassure us, “argues Dossogne.”Today we do not see any stable and alternative to nuclear power. The construction of gas-fired power stations will take time and even the increase in renewable resources is often called into question or reported by local residents’ appeals, for his part, believes Juan Murillo, Managing Director of Carmeuse Western Europe.
“There are too many dissonant voices right now to have a clear vision of the future. We need a quantified plan and precise timing to reassure us.”
With as a corollary the question of sufficient capacity. “While we are pushing massively towards” all-electric “, have decision-makers taken the measure of the increase in production capacity that will be necessary in the long term?” Asks Juan Murillo.
While the ton of CO2 reaches 75 euros and is promised 100 euros in the short term, the environmental dimension also weighs heavily in industrial calculations. “The production of one ton of lime requires the emission of one ton of CO2,” he continues. “For a ton of glass, the multiple is three. We do not broadcast by choice, but by necessity. Two solutions: either stop production or capture CO2. We cannot go without an industrial activity in our regions! Solutions for concentrated carbon dioxide at the furnace outlet require considerable investment and increase power consumption tenfold. The cost of the investment can be budgeted … but what about security of supply and what is the environmental impact of electricity production? “
(In-) energy dependence
The two manufacturers insist: they are not pro-nuclear! “The question of the treatment and conservation of waste has never been resolved. But in the current context of an urgent reduction in CO2 emissions, it is a source of energy that we cannot do without until we have a valid alternative, reliable and low in CO2 emissions, “continues Dossogne.” But at this stage, we do not have enough information on the availability of future gas-fired power stations, nor on the timing of their possible conversion to green hydrogen. that we are dangling today. “
“Can we afford to put a good part of our energy supply in the hands of a single player like Russia when we see that this country can vary prices from simple to triple in a very short time? ”
Without counting the dependence that Belgium risks suffering from gas powers such as Russia. “Norwegian and Moroccan reserves are not inexhaustible. Can we afford to put a good part of our energy supply in the hands of a single player like Russia when we see that this country can vary prices from simple to triple in a very short time? “, remarked Murillo. “Energy supply, like CO2 emissions, is global issues which largely the Belgian question on the nuclear issue… ”
Whatever the source of energy, in the end, it must be produced in sufficient and stable quantity, has a affordable cost and compatible with greening bonds which will only grow stronger, claim the industrialists.