What will be the impact of high energy prices on investment decisions and employment opportunities in Belgium?

Febeliec commissioned KPMG to conduct a study to answer this question through in-depth interviews with 22 industry leaders in Belgium across sectors, including chemicals and petrochemicals, life sciences, industrial manufacturing and food processing. Together, the companies represent approximately 10TWh of electricity consumption (or approximately 1/8 of total electricity consumption in Belgium) and 40.000 direct jobs. To further highlight the importance of the sectors represented in the report, it’s noteworthy that Belgium hosts the second largest petrochemical cluster in the world, ranks second worldwide for (bio)pharma exports, and the food industry is the largest industrial employer of the country.

As the global economy moves towards a cleaner, more sustainable future, nations worldwide are grappling with the challenges posed by the energy transition and rapidly rising energy costs. By delving into the experiences and perspectives of Belgian industry leaders, we developed a comprehensive understanding of the complex relationship between energy costs and industrial growth in our country and uncovered how high electricity prices have shaped their decision-making processes, operational strategies, and workforce dynamics. 

Specifically, we identified four key findings:

  1. The industry considers the total electricity cost per MWh in Belgium as one of the highest in the world.
  2. Security of electricity supply and capacity is a pressing concern for the industry.
  3. There is a crucial need for a stable, coherent energy strategy in Belgium and Europe.
  4. Decarbonization of the industry will require substantial investments.

Based on these findings, what’s then needed for the future?

  1. To establish a long-term stable energy policy with a clear roadmap.
  2. To articulate a clear path towards a carbon-neutral economy.
  3. To organize a good and constructive dialogue between the industry, the energy sector and the government to restore trust and work out structural solutions and appropriate measures.

In today’s rapidly evolving world, the impact of high energy prices on investments and employment in the industry has become an issue of paramount importance. We truly believe that this report will serve as a valuable resource for policy makers, business leaders and other stakeholders alike, fostering a dialogue that contributes to a sustainable and vibrant economy in our country, and to the future of energy.

Harry Van Donink
KPMG in Belgium