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Top Ten Highlights of Cleantech in Brussels, Belgium

Recently, Belgium created the Belgium Plan, providing the required steps the European country will need to achieve in an effort to meet their renewable energy and energy efficiency objectives. As the capital of Belgium, the city of Brussels is looking to do its part to streamline the objectives and have Brussels be a leader in international cleantech cities and have Belgium become a global cleantech leader. This includes housing some of the most important organizations throughout Europe, enacting a number of clean technology related initiatives, and spreading the ideas of renewable energy and energy efficient throughout the city. Listed below are just ten of the cleantech highlights in Brussels, Belgium.

1 ) The European Forum for Renewable Energy Sources. The European Forum of Renewable Energy Sources, EUFORES, sits in Brussels. It was founded in 1996 with the goal to promote sources of renewable energy as well as energy efficiency throughout the countries of the European Union. According to the EUFORES website, its mission is to “support the development of renewable energy in the European Union as a key solution for sustainable development. EUFORES also recognizes the importance of and linking to energy efficiency and therefore allocates parts of its activities to this field.” Their other goal includes improving European policies toward energy efficiency and renewable energy.

2 ) European Renewable Energy Council. Sitting in Brussels, Belgium is the European Renewable Energy Council. It was created in 2000 to assist as the voice of the renewable energy industry in Europe. EREC represents the whole sector of renewable energy, including photovoltaics, solar thermal, bioenergy, small hydropower, ocean, geothermal, and wind energy. EREC is composed of numerous federations and non-profit associations, including European Geothermal Energy Council, European Biomass Association, European Association of Renewable Energy Research Center, European Solar Thermal Electricity Association, and the European Ocean Energy Association. The objectives of EREC is to allow for the free exchange of information related to sources of renewable energy, to provide consultations and information on renewable energies, and to promote European renewable energy technologies.

3 ) Brussels Annual Carbon Capture and Storage Summit. In May of 2012, it will be the Third Annual Carbon Capture and Storage Summit in Brussels. Held at le Chatelain All Suite Hotel, this one day conferences gathers carbon capture and storage industry professionals, European Union policy makers, and various other stakeholders for a debate on the overall progress of carbon capture and storage in the European Union. The 2012 summit will focus on the “impact of the global financial crisis on the roll out of [carbon capture and storage], the state of play regarding [carbon capture and storage]funding models including future roles for public subsidiaries, and will also explore the future applications and uses for [carbon capture and storage]that may help drive its commercialization potential.”

4 ) Airport in Brussels Investing in Renewable Energy. With the recent installation of 7,220 solar panels, the Brussels airport is adding renewable energy to its overall electricity network. It offers an annual energy production of 1,500 megawatt hours, which is enough to cover the annual energy consumption of 450 families. The produced energy is sent right into the power grid at the airport and covers approximately one percent of annual energy consumption. For Arnaud Feist, CEO of The Brussels Airport Company, the choice for solar energy was logical: “We have committed ourselves earlier to pursue a sustainable energy policy and significantly reduce our carbon dioxide emissions by signing up to the Airport Carbon Accreditation Scheme. For technical reasons, the share of sustainable energy sources in our total energy consumption remains rather modest for the time being, but on the total amount of energy used for 20,000 members of staff and 50,000 passengers a day, each percent is a major step forward.”

5 ) European Union Renewable Energy Research Centers Agency. The European Union Renewable Energy Research Centers Agency (EUREC) was established in 1991 and is a Brussels-based European association that looks to connect the leading research centers and university departments throughout Europe that are active in the study of renewable energy technology. The three objective of EUREC include acting as a communication center for renewable energy research issues for EUREC members as well as interest groups and influential bodies; create strong ties to the industry of renewable energy; and take an active role in educating renewable energy engineers. Activities include networking, project development, policy inputs, and education and training.

6 ) Renewable Energy Law 2012 Held in Brussels. Held in March of 2012, the Renewable Energy Law Conference in Brussels was entitled “Market Design and System Transformation for a Renewable Energy Future.” Due to the boost in interest in renewable energy, there is a growing need for renewable energy regulation. While energy law at first focused on natural gas regulation, now other areas need to be covered as well. This event is for stakeholders and law professionals to exchange their views as well as proposed challenges of the sector on renewable energy.

7 ) Brussels, Sustainable City. Brussels, Sustainable City is an organization that aims to meet the environmental challenges that are specific to the city with the objective of having Brussels become a global model in the area of sustainable development throughout the next few years. The mission is to “study, monitor, and manage the air, water, soil, waste, noise, nature (green spaces and biodiversity), etc, but also to issue environmental permits, monitor their observance, develop and support environmental education projects in Brussels schools, participate in meetings and negotiations at the Belgian and international level, etc. Finally, Brussels Environment has developed its activities in the area of eco-construction and the links between health and environment.”

8 ) European Biomass Association. AEBIOM, the European Biomass Association, is housed in Brussels, Belgium. It is a nonprofit organization established in 1990 with the mission of developing the market to include sustainable bioenergy as well as guarantee favorable business conditions for all members. Around 36 national associations and 73 companies from all around the European Union participate in AEBIOM. Some of the activities include lobbying European institutions, networking among members, European Union project management, communication activities, information dissemination, and event organization.

9 ) Sustainable Energy Week. Sustainable Energy Week is held every year in Brussels. Numerous organizations from more than 30 countries in the European Union take part in this week by hosting various Energy Day activities and events to promote energy efficiency as well as sources of renewable energy.

10 ) European Wind Energy Association. Located in Brussels is EWEA, the European Wind Energy Association. EWEA promotes the utilization of wind power, not just in Europe, but worldwide. The members of EWEA cover about 98% of the global wind power market, including research institutes, component suppliers, developers, and renewable associations. It is currently one of the largest associations of renewable energy on the global platform. EWAE looks at, creates, and establishes different policy positions revolving around the wind industry on numerous key issues and undertake lobbying to increase the importance of switching to sustainable technologies, especially wind energy.

Article by Shawn Lesser, Co-founder & Managing Partner of Atlanta-based Watershed Capital Group – an investment bank assisting sustainable fund and companies raise capital, perform acquisitions, and in other strategic financial decisions. He is also a Co-founder of the GCCA Global Cleantech Cluster Association ”The Global Voice of Cleantech”. He writes for various cleantech publications and is known as the David Letterman of Cleantech for his “Top 10″ series. He is also author of The 2012 Cleantech Directory. He can be reached at