The energy expert who can make the green dream come true

21 november 2020

07:50

Minister of Energy Tinne Van der Straeten embodies the green hope of the nuclear exit. Thanks to the expertise she gained as a lawyer in the energy sector, she knows how to achieve that goal.

“It’s a bit like coming home,” said Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Green) Friday at the annual meeting of Elia, the high-voltage grid operator that plays a key role in Belgian energy policy. Her weapon is that she is an expert who knows the industry inside and out. She built up that knowledge when she was not re-elected in 2009 and exchanged national politics for the law firm Blixt. This works for almost all major players in the electricity sector and industry.


With Van der Straeten, Groen has the right woman in the right place at the right time. She knows the facts and figures on the basis of which political decisions can be made.

That credit to credibility throws 42-year-old Van der Straeten in the fight to finally make the political dream of the Greens of closing the nuclear power plants come true. It has become a long process. The nuclear trip was the trophy that the greens already raised when Guy Verhofstadt (Open VLD) held purple-green above the baptismal font at the turn of the century. It became a disappointment. The greens were still too green behind the ears. The nuclear trip was a paper tiger. Postponement after postponement followed.

Ministeriabel

With Van der Straeten, Groen has the right woman in the right place at the right time. She knows the facts and figures on the basis of which political decisions can be made. With her knowledge and pragmatism she got the blessing of the entrepreneurial world. After an interview with FEB CEO Pieter Timmermans, he said in a phone call to Alexander De Croo (Open VLD) that Van der Straeten seemed to him to be ‘ministerial’. She could also count on the support of the palace, as appeared in the corridors of the King Baudouin Foundation, where Van der Straeten and Vincent Houssiau, King Philippe’s chief of cabinet, met.

The credit that Van der Straeten has as an energy specialist is of vital importance to Groen. Just as the credit of Jan Jambon (N-VA) and Theo Francken (N-VA) as Flemish nationalists was of capital importance to Bart De Wever to start the Swedish coalition in 2014 without the confederal N-VA dream. Jambon and Francken had to block the grumbling on the Flemish flank. Van der Straeten must convince the coalition partners that the nuclear exit is feasible.

Security of supply

Van der Straeten is absolutely convinced that the nuclear exit is a feasible option without jeopardizing the power supply. And more importantly, she knows what steps to take to achieve her goal. Nobody should get in her way. Any opposition is defused without mercy. In it, the Greens have left their naivety behind.


Nobody should get in her way. Any opposition is defused without mercy. In it, the Greens have left their naivety behind.

Van der Straeten is well aware of the importance of a support mechanism for the construction of gas-fired power stations. These are necessary to cope with the closure of the nuclear power stations. The fact that those gas-fired power stations emit more CO₂ than nuclear reactors is not an easy thing for the Greens to sell. The advantage of gas-fired power stations is that they can be switched on and off easily and do not hinder the further development of renewable energy.

The fact that the energy regulator CREG threatened to undermine the need for subsidies for gas-fired power plants with an investigation into the price that consumers are willing to pay in order to avoid blackouts. Van der Straeten did not hesitate to take that study out of the hands of the regulator, it turned out this week. It shows how hard Van der Straeten needs that support mechanism, which is bizarrely a legacy of her maligned predecessor Marie-Christine Marghem (MR), in order to get the closure of the nuclear power plants politically sold in her own majority. Van der Straeten does not wear goat wool socks.

Van der Straeten in 5 keywords

Dream Tinne Van der Straeten’s credit as an energy specialist is of vital importance to Groen. She throws this in the fight to finally make the political dream of the Greens of closing nuclear power stations come true.

Core step Van der Straeten is firmly convinced that the nuclear exit is a feasible option, without jeopardizing security of supply.

Gascentrales She knows very well that a support mechanism for the construction of gas plants is crucial. These are necessary to cope with the closure of the nuclear power stations.

Palace She can count on the support of the palace, as appeared in the corridors of the King Baudouin Foundation, where Van der Straeten and Vincent Houssiau, King Philippe’s private secretary, met.

Harmless She knows what steps to take to achieve her goal. Nobody should get in her way, every opposition is made harmless.

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