Brussels, 4 October 2023
BOP deeply regrets the rushed conclusions of the short feasibility study on the possible planning of renewable energy zones in the Belgian part of the North Sea. Offshore wind energy is indispensable in order to reach the objectives of the Belgian Climate Plan, without the large wind turbines in our North Sea.
The European objectives for Belgium would be impossible to achieve. To achieve the Belgian Federal Government’s objective of 8GW of renewable energy in the Belgian part of the North Sea by 2040, approximately 200km² of additional space is required. This brings the total space for renewable energy to ~20% of the Belgian part of the North Sea.
BOP and its members were not involved in the carrying out of the study but did cooperate in previous stakeholder consultations regarding marine spatial planning. In that consultation, BOP proposed four search zones for new developments, as well as a fifth search zone to optimize the current Eastern zone in the context of redevelopment of wind energy after the expiry of the current concessions.
Given the particularly intensive use of the Belgian part of the North Sea, creative use of space, combined with other uses, is a must to enable further renewable energy developments. However, BOP observe that the search zones from the study were only evaluated for possible conflicts. The challenge lies in finding the right balance in the North Sea: this requires further coordination, refinement and optimization of the search zones. Ultimately, this is about making choices for a solid energy supply and energy independence. Offshore wind is indispensable for this.
Arcadis’ study should therefore be seen as a first step in the broader process of determining the eligible zones. The BOP therefore invites the Belgian authorities to further refine and complete the study in close consultation with the sector and all stakeholders involved. Thereby, the new zones can be recorded in the MRP, which will form the necessary basis for achieving the federal government’s objective of achieving 8 GW of renewable energy in the Belgian part of the North Sea by 2040.