Today, 7 February, is Belgium’s Grey Day, when notionally all of the country’s production of green energy has been used up, forcing us to switch to grey sources.
To explain: Belgium produces 9.9% of all energy from green sources. If we were to start using green energy on 1 January, then it would have been used up yesterday, after 9.9% of the year had elapsed. And today, Grey Day, we have to return to old grey sources of energy.
The construct is an artificial one, but like work for yourself day (for taxation) or equal pay day (for the gender pay gap) it’s a useful one for comparison purposes.
And the Grey Day calculation shows how far down the list of European countries Belgium is.
According to figures from Eurostat, Belgium is in fourth-last place of EU27 nations, with only the Netherlands (8.8%), Malta (8.5%) and Luxembourg (7%) doing worse.
By contrast, Sweden leads the table with 56.4% green energy, which means their Grey Day will not be until 23 July. They are followed by Finland (6 June), Latvia (30 May), Denmark (16 May) and Austria (3 May).
The EU has a target of 20% of total energy consumption being green by 2020, and the countries leading the table have all achieved their national target already. Belgium is one of those countries that has not, and seems unlikely to do so. (The shares mentioned above relate to consumption in 2019, the latest year for which figures are available.)
Other countries failing to hit the target look like being Slovenia, France, Poland, Ireland, the Netherlands and Luxembourg. Spain was a near-miss in 2019, as was Malta, and they may catch up by the end of the year.