By end 2020, 8 offshore wind farms with a 2.3 GW capacity will together produce approximately 8 TWh of green electricity annually, which is equivalent to the electricity consumption of 2.2 million homes, i.e. almost half of all Belgian homes.
With the new Marine Spatial Plan (2020-2026), offshore wind energy capacity can double to 4.5 GW in the coming years, so that offshore wind energy can meet one fifth of the electricity demand. The sector is doing everything in its power to realize this as soon as possible.
Offshore wind turbines produce electricity more than 90% of the time: they turn from a light breeze (2 Beaufort) to a violent storm (11 Beaufort). There is always wind at sea and the latest wind turbines can also continue to produce during severe storms.
Nearly 16 000 jobs will be created between 2010 and 2030 through the development, construction, maintenance and dismantling of wind farms and their electrical infrastructure. More information on the macroeconomic impact of the offshore wind industry can be found here.
Wind turbines and foundations are almost entirely recyclable: 90% of their components are recyclable. When a wind turbine has to be dismantled (after about 25 years of producing green electricity), most of its materials are reused for the construction of new wind turbines. Materials that cannot be reused are fully recycled.
The wind and renewable energy industry is growing considerably and research is being carried out to build 100% zero waste wind turbines. For example, wind turbine manufacturer Vestas has recently committed to producing zero residual waste wind turbines by 2040.
Ten years of environmental monitoring by independent scientists have demonstrated that there is an increase in marine biodiversity in and around wind farms. More information are available on the website of the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences.
A wind farm emits 175 times less CO2 than the most modern gas plants. After 6 months to a year, an average wind farm (around 300 MW) completely neutralizes the CO2 emissions caused by its construction and operation. After that, the wind turbines continue to produce electricity for at least 20 years in an environmentally and climate-friendly way, without emitting CO2 or harmful substances and without producing harmful waste.