The market driver is mostly driven by building regulations for new and existing buildings: the regulation requires a certain performance level to be achieved and solar thermal systems can help to reach the requirement. But the main sales in existing buildings are with owners who, for example, specifically chose a solar water heater for environment reasons. Currently, the solar hot water systems are in competition with PV systems coupled with a heat pump.
To better ascertain and contextualise market drivers, it must be considered that in 2019 Belgium exported more electricity than in it imported (1.8 TWh exported/2.1% of the energy mix).
The main developments were a steady increase in (mainly offshore) renewable power generation, better availability of nuclear generating facilities and an increase in electricity exports. Renewable generation (offshore/onshore wind and solar power only) increased by 17% in absolute terms compared to 2018 (11.52 TWh in 2019 as against 9.82 TWh in 2018). The relatively high amount of solar energy generated in the summer, and higher wind generation in winter, highly contributed to these figures. In December 2019, renewables accounted for a record 16% of the month's energy load, with a level of generation, 1.17 TWh in absolute terms, that was the highest ever recorded in Belgium. Offshore and onshore generation records were also broken in December 2019. In 2019, 48.8% of the power generated in Belgium came from nuclear plants. This figure was in line with the total for 2017 (50%). Nuclear plants generated far more power in 2019 than in 2018 (31.2%), a year marked by the significant unavailability of several reactors, especially during the last few months of the year.
Solar energy accounted to 3.5 TWh, or 4.2% (Source: Elia group, Belgium's electricity transmission system operator, January 2020).