An analysis of renewable energy technology trends in Europe and new ideas to promote the sector regionally.
A strategy for smart specialization must be based on:
- Real evidence of sector trends in the region
- An entrepreneurial cradle in selected domains and the concentration of assets and stakeholders
- Competitive advantages in a global context
These points were at the heart of our methodology. We first assessed European trends for different technologies, before focusing on the actual value chain for in place in various sectors with the most potential.
Relative position of renewable energy technologies in different European countries
Value chains of different renewable energy technologies
- An analysis of company balance sheets in the sector shows that 50% of all renewable energy sector companies in Belgium are active in manufacturing, and 50% are service-oriented.
- Many traditional manufacturing companies are diversifying into renewable energy technology and the sector is increasingly linked to the overall economy.
- Companies with an international focus tend to generate more employment that companies active locally only.
- The strongest value chains are to be found in the wind and biomass sectors.
Lessons learned: paths for smart specialization
Based on general European comparison, it is quite clear that a “copy/paste” strategy, or targeted specialization on one sector, are risky and difficult paths for regions looking to develop their renewable energy sector. Global competition, the speed of technological changes and natural resources are major concerns.
|SOLAR: the value chain has until now been heavily dependent on a favourable policy structure. A more interesting avenue in the sector other than straight manufacturing or installation could be recycling. The Flemish region is well situated within Europe to become a logistic hub and excellent players are embedded in the region already.|
|OFFSHORE WIND: is another promising renewable energy technology sector for the region which already is home to leading industrial players in the sector (DEME, CMI, Fabricom, …) and has demonstrated capabilities in marine technology that are competitive at a global scale.|
|BIOMASS: the value chain is already relatively strong and the port of Ghent has one of the biggest biofuel clusters in Europe.|
|SMART GRIDS: know-how is already consolidated in the Energyville research hubs and several ground-breaking research and demonstration projects are taking place in the region, such as the European funded MetaPV project. There is ample room and need for further development of this type of expertise.|