We see a wide range of opportunities when taking into account cleantech domains with regional potential:

1. Smart grid-solutions

A clear market need for smart grid solutions already exists.  We expect that demand to grow exponentially based on the current trend. A large number of companies in Flanders are well placed to respond to this need. Those opportunities are supported by the following, among others:

  • The trend of electricity consumers becoming 'prosumers', i.e. supply to the grid is becoming decentralised.
  • The accelerated transition to electric vehicles and the corresponding charging infrastructure at home, at work and on the road. Thanks to bi-directional charging (V2X - 'Vehicle to X'), the energy collected in vehicles' batteries can also be used to supply energy at home (V2H), in a building (V2B) or to the grid (V2G) when required and where possible.
  • Lower costs for generating and storing renewable energy thanks to technological advances.

2. Battery recycling

The demand for battery recycling is expected to increase. Flemish battery technology companies are well placed to help here. This part of the value chain is becoming increasingly important in a circular economy as demonstrated by current trends, particularly in the areas of legislation and material provisions.

3. Green hydrogen

Green hydrogen is without doubt one of the most important energy resources of the future, having exceeded peak expectations in the hype cycle. This technology has essentially already been accepted commercially, despite   the fact that green hydrogen is neither produced at scale nor economically viable yet. Belgium is very well positioned to take the lead in this field, and not just in terms of ambition and government support. Flanders boasts R&D centres and organisations already working on hydrogen technology. 

4. Photovoltaic panels

The combination of market maturity and demand for photovoltaic panels (PV) in Flanders provides the perfect foundation for growth. Given the current technology, application and market for solar panels, there are no doubt opportunities for multiple innovations in this field:

  • Transparent solar panels are ideal for urban regions where space for traditional solar panels is limited. Windows with an integrated PV function, known as solar glass, which fulfil two purposes when fitted in buildings. The available space and light materials are used more efficiently.
  • Agriphotovoltaics are the combination of agriculture and photovoltaics. PV panels are installed on structures above, or in rows between, crops in fields.

5. Precision agriculture

Precision agriculture is a combination of various technologies. There is huge potential for collaboration in this field, with many different active domains including IoT, AI, machine learning, drones, satellite imagery, robotics and vertical farming. Precision agriculture offers numerous opportunities for the cleantech ecosystem in Flanders, with a view to developments in water use, label readers, blockchain technology, carbon capture, aerial recording, innovation in climate-friendly agricultural vehicles, autonomous solutions and AI. Precision agriculture should mean a reduction in the use of fertilisers by matching fertilisation better to crop needs. It is also able to offer protection for the environment and a reduction in agriculture's footprint, by limiting nitrogen leaching for example.

6. Water solutions

Belgium does not score highly on the UN's sixth Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) - Clean Water and Sanitation - and in fact, seems to be moving in the opposite direction to the desired SDG trajectory. Belgium is currently facing extremely high levels of 'water stress' and has called for more water solutions. Consequently, many Flemish companies have developed their expertise in this field and there is a clear opportunity for exporting these clean water technologies. Too much or too little water is an increasing problem around the globe.

In conclusion: an appeal for cooperation


The industrial R&D in Flanders is some of the most robust in Europe. The high quality of education and research facilities and the availability of skilled workers and tax incentives could give Flemish cleantech companies a ground-breaking position on the international stage. However, these companies need financial support to scale up and also to connect to their desired market. Support for scaling up and bridging the so-called 'valley of death' would be a significant positive contribution.

It is essential to commit to promoting collaboration, both between Flanders-based organisations and other European cleantech clusters. This report details a few success stories thanks to this approach.