Kristal Park: 3 questions to energy specialist Ronnie Belmans

On 13 June, Kristal Solar Park, the largest solar park in the Benelux, was officially opened in Lommel. One of the people in attendance was energy specialist Ronnie Belmans, CEO of EnergyVille, who provided us with his view of the energy systems of the future. Local Energy Communities. But what does that involve and what does it mean for us?

What will the energy system of the future look like?

As a result of the huge increase in renewable, intermittent energy sources such as wind and solar energy, and the shift from consumer to ‘prosumer’, there is a need for an intelligent, balanced and decentralised system which is sufficiently flexible. Taking account of the climate goals, it will be dominated by electricity consumption as a vector for supplying energy instead of natural gas or oil. The system will integrate all electrical and thermal sources and will be controlled by the Internet of Power. Temperature, systems and transport will be continuously connected and make use of this collective carrier.


What does this mean for the consumer?

Comfort is the priority in a Local Energy Community. Everyone uses self-produced energy as far as possible and will also be able to exchange this with the neighbours. A community will grow in line with the opportunities and residents will work together on the project to realise a local energy transition. But we will have to be flexible. Once energy production is driven by demand, this will also work vice versa, i.e. the consumer will have to adapt their energy demands to moments when it is available. This will also apply to (electric) vehicles; there will be charging facilities at work in the future, which run via a control system that is linked to the worker's diary so that everyone goes home with a full battery.


How will the role of energy suppliers change?

The energy supplier of the future will provide a service, rather than being a producer; a customer will take out a type of insurance contract with the 'supplier of comfort’. This will reassure him that he will be able to live at home, in comfort, without having to keep an eye on the meter. We will move away from energy as a product and evolve towards a range of energy services, rather than kilowatt hours. And whereas the consumer now receives 3 different energy bills for electricity, heating and fuel for the car, these will all be combined in the future and may be pooled with other services too.