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The Energy trilemma

Energy should be reliable, sustainable and affordable. How do you reconcile these objectives ?

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Will the lights stay on if we shut down the nuclear power plants? What are the ecological and financial consequences of the nuclear exit? Are subsidies necessary to trigger investments in replacement capacity? Is a sharp increase in electricity imports the simplest solution? Or should we manage the demand side more intelligently? And what opportunities do electric vehicles offer?

There is no single, unique energy future. Yet we want an energy system that is reliable, sustainable and affordable at the same time. Can we reconcile the three objectives of the energy trilemma? 

In this keynote, we explore the Belgian electricity landscape of 2030 from the perspective of the trilemma. We answer the questions above and point out the main trade-offs or 'trade-offs' according to the energy trilemma. 

This analysis shows how an ambitious policy can make use of technological evolutions to realise the energy trilemma.

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Prof. Dr. Johan Albrecht is an experienced economist with a broad interest in societal and technological changes. By combining different disciplines, he brings new insights that help in mastering our changing world. His key interests relate to sustainability challenges and the need to prepare for the future we aspire to. Since 2006, he has been a senior fellow at the Itinera Institute, an independent think tank based in Brussels ( His research activities focus on energy systems, climate policy, and the dynamics of housing markets. 

His recent books include "Corona Shock" (2020), "Investeer in een gezonde levensstijl. Op weg naar een activerend preventiebeleid" (2020), "Oikonomia" (2018), "Energietrilemma" (2017), and "Het gewicht van vlees" (2016). He is the author of 40 publications in international journals and volumes, and as a scientific advisor, he works for Belgian and international organizations.

Johan Albrecht

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