BRUSSELS – NORTH SEA: The extended shut-down of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear reactors shows that Belgium urgently needs its own additional electricity capacity. In a memorandum to the different levels of government in our country, the Belgian Offshore Platform calls for prompt action to guarantee the necessary stability of supply by speeding up the further development of wind parks at sea. Offshore wind energy is one of the country’s strongest trump cards in its efforts to achieve greater security of supply and energy independence. It is also an important weapon in the fight against the effects of climate change, which at the same time will make our economy more sustainable and create more employment.
By 2020, offshore wind energy will meet 10% of Belgium’s total electricity requirements. With the possibly early closure of two nuclear reactors, large scale electricity production at sea becomes an even more indispensible element in the renewable energy mix. In the years ahead, the Belgian offshore wind sector will need – and is ready – to make major investments in order to provide an answer to the ecological and economic challenges that will determine all our futures.
With 712 MW of installed capacity, the Belgian offshore sector already guarantees a significant part of Belgium’s security of supply (3 % of the country’s total electricity consumption). With the realization of five additional wind parks (Norther, Seastar, Rentel, Mermaid and Northwester II), the total installed capacity of the wind turbines in the North Sea will be increased to more than 2,200 MW. This will then be equivalent to 10 % of Belgium’s total electricity requirements or almost 50% of the electricity consumed by households.
In the interests of the Belgian economy, it is crucial that the country’s own capacity to produce electricity is further developed, so that security of supply can continue to be guaranteed. Having your own production capacity also guarantees a stable pricing policy (less reliance on imports) and creates a stable investment climate for Belgian companies.
Risk of black-out
As a result of the extension of the shut-down of the Doel 3 and Tihange 2 nuclear reactors, the limitations of importing electricity from abroad will become clear this winter, with a real risk of a shortfall in electricity supply. In anticipation of the planned decommissioning of Belgium’s nuclear power stations after 2025, the challenge of ensuring future electricity supply and preventing a possible black-out is a daunting one. The Federal Planning Agency has calculated that a national power cut of one hour during a working day would result in a total loss to the Belgian economy of ca. 120 million euros.
In order to develop our country’s crucial security of supply and energy independence to the greatest possible extent, the Belgian Offshore Platform has asked the competent authorities in a memorandum to create and guarantee sufficient clarity, legal certainty and long-term stability. In particular, the concerns of the sector focus on the state support mechanism for future construction, the implementation of the Stevin project (strengthening of the Elia high-voltage grid) and future energy policy in its wider context.