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New energy legislation for non-energy intensive businesses: what measures matter to you as a business owner?

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For some time, the Flemish government has been encouraging companies to optimize their energy consumption. Unlike energy-intensive companies, non-energy-intensive companies were not bound by any regulations regarding their energy management. Since Jan. 1, 2023, however, this has changed and non-energy-intensive companies are obliged to draw up an energy audit or an energy balance sheet. Want to know more about what exactly these obligations entail? We give you a preview of the main points below.


1 Energy or non-energy intensive?

To determine which obligations you must comply with as an entrepreneur, the first step is to determine whether or not your company's location is energy-intensive. This is determined on the basis of annual final energy consumption. If this consumption exceeds 0.1 PJ, then the enterprise is considered energy-intensive. If it is lower, it is considered non-energy-intensive. The criteria are always tested per site and the resulting obligations apply at the same level.

To determine your company's energy consumption, you can use the calculation tool on energy designed by the Flemish government: energy consumption calculation tool.

In the following commentary, we elaborate on the new conditions and measures applicable to non-energy intensive business.


2 What obligations must I fulfill?

Not only the annual energy consumption determines which obligations must be met, but also the type of company itself:

Commitment to an energy audit

  • Large companies
  • SMEs with annual energy consumption located between 0.05 PJ and 0.1 PJ.

Energy balance obligation

  • SMEs with energy consumption between 0.02 PJ and 0.05 PJ

If you are an SME with an annual energy consumption below 0.02 PJ, then you are exempt from any obligation.

To determine whether or not you are an SME/large enterprise, two criteria apply. Large company either employs more than 250 people or has an annual turnover greater than EUR 50 million and an annual balance sheet total greater than EUR 43 million.


3 What is an energy audit and when should it be submitted?

The energy audit must comply with certain form requirements and it will have to be repeated every 4 years. It is based on the effectively measured energy consumption and includes a detailed overview of the energy consumption profile of the buildings and processes (incl. transport).

The audit must be prepared by an energy expert who must be accepted by the VEKA (Flemish Energy and Climate Agency). The Flemish Institute for Technological Research (VITO) provides on its website a list with potential energy experts available.

The deadline for preparing this energy audit is April 1, 2023. If only after April 1, 2023, the establishment's energy use increases above the threshold of 0.05 PJ, an energy audit must be prepared within 6 months of determining that the threshold is exceeded.

Once the energy audit is submitted, the site operator has three years to implement all cost-effective measures (IRR > 13%).


4 What is an energy balance sheet and when should it be submitted?

The energy balance aims to provide an insight into your SME's energy consumption. It includes an overview of the energy consumption profile and provides an inventory of all energy flows in a given year and area.

The energy balance should be prepared by the operator of the enterprise or by a person authorized by the operator. Next template is provided by the Flemish government when preparing the energy balance sheet.

The deadline for preparing this energy balance is April 1, 2023. Establishments of companies that do not meet the criteria until after April 1, 2023, and thus exceed an energy consumption of 0.02 PJ after April 1, 2023, must prepare an energy balance sheet within 6 months of this determination.

A sectoral no-regret measure list is available for each sector. Such a list contains ten measures with a payback period of no more than 3 years. The company must implement the measures listed and applicable to their sector within 4 years. The energy balance is valid for 4 years from the date the energy balance is submitted.


5 How should the energy balance/audit be recorded?

The energy balance or energy audit must be registered with VEKA. At their website a web application is provided where it can be registered and further explanation is also provided regarding the procedure.


6 Support measures

To support companies in these new obligations, a flanking instrument to the new strengthened legislation for just non-energy-intensive companies is being set up, namely sector federation agreements (SFOs).

The sector federation agreements will be voluntarily concluded between the Flemish Government and sector federations and will involve a sectoral de-risking process to support the non-energy intensive enterprises of the sector concerned in complying with the legislation and to relieve them from the implementation of mandatory measures. Support for a sector federation agreement will be provided in the form of a grant.


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