*Figures based on purchased energy vectors for energy use expressed in primary energy.
Sources: essenscia, DGOARNE, aggregated data from the energy efficiency voluntary agreement essenscia wallonie
Today, the main energy sources used by the industry are electricity (59%) and natural gas (35%), with steam accounting for another 5% of purchased energy. As such, the fuel switch from coal to natural gas and investments in high efficiency cogenation, core measures in European climate policies, have already been implemented for several years in the Belgian chemical and life sciences sector. The use of petroleum as liquid fuel (1%) has virtually ceased since 2010, and coal has been phased out completely already in 1995. The chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry has also invested heavily in combined heat and power installations representing 40% (about 1000 MWe) of total electrical cogeneration capacity in Belgium.
Energy efficiency improvements have been achieved thanks to the introduction of more integrated production processes, involving i.a. exchanges of steam. Optimisation takes place between the production installations of the companies, but also between companies in industrial clusters.
A significant proportion of the chemicals, plastics and life sciences industry remains very energy intensive, resulting in a 213 petajoule (PJ) of energy consumption in 2017. As high energy needs are intrinsic to the products made by the sector, energy costs are a major contributor to production costs. Optimising energy efficiency as well as access to competitive energy remain constant priorities for the sector.