After more than a year of uncertainty about the investment climate for the Mermaid, Northwester 2 and Seastar wind farms, the federal government decided on 27 October 2017 to continue supporting the further development of offshore wind in the North Sea.
The three farms will be constructed on the basis of a Levelised Cost of Energy (LCOE; i.e. actualised cost of energy) of €79/MWh. The period of support has been fixed at 16 years, with the potential for extension by 1 year in the event of low wind conditions.
Belgium is thus following the international cost reduction trend, within the current legal framework for domain concessions. Technological evolution, professionalisation of the entire value chain and upscaling due to increased volumes, especially in Germany and the United Kingdom, have caused the average cost of offshore wind energy to drop in the past year. This cost reduction is continuing in Belgium, too, which is a positive evolution for the sector and for consumers.
A capacity of 2,300 MW of offshore wind energy is essential if Belgium’s climate and renewable energy targets are to be met by 2020. Today, 877 MW of offshore wind energy is already operational: enough to satisfy the annual energy consumption of over 800,000 families. New capacity of 679 MW is under construction and will start production from next year. The next three farms, guaranteeing 716 MW, are expected to become operational by 2020. The federal government’s decision finally removes the legal uncertainty over these investments, and the projects can go back to concentrating on their core task: helping to build the low-carbon economy of the future.
Within the category of renewable energy sources, wind energy is attractive because it involves the large-scale generation of climate-friendly, safe and waste-free electricity. Additional offshore capacity is an indispensable part of our country’s energy supply, certainly and especially in winter. The demand for electricity rises then, but this is matched by an increase in energy production in the North Sea, because winter brings more wind and higher wind speeds. Moreover, the electricity from offshore wind energy is ‘100% made in Belgium’: it contributes to Belgium’s energy independence.
The offshore wind industry also breathes life into the local economy and the economy of Belgium as a whole: in due course, up to 16,000 jobs and €13 billion could be generated. Finally, support for offshore wind energy seems to be very widespread within society: a recent opinion poll found that the vast majority of Belgians (83%) support more offshore wind energy in order to meet climate targets.
For more info: Annemie Vermeylen – +32 (0)478 500 115