On the eve of Global Wind Day, the Belgian renewable energy federations (EDORA, ODE and BOP) would like to remind that almost 20% of the electricity consumed in Belgium today comes from wind or solar photovoltaic installations. With almost 11 GW of installed wind and photovoltaic solar energy capacity by the end of 2020, Belgium is well on its way towards a sustainable energy transition. However, by 2030, sun and wind should cover 40 to 50% of the country’s electricity supply. The regional and federal governments are counting on growth in these sectors in line with their objectives. This is necessary to respond to Belgium’s climate and energy challenges, but it is also a huge challenge and an unprecedented opportunity for our country. Therefore, it is necessary to lift some restrictions on the development of these renewable energy sectors.
At the end of 2020, the Belgian federations, active in energy transition and renewable energy technologies, reported an installed wind capacity of more than 4,700 MW (of which 2,262 MW at sea) and an installed PV capacity of more than 6,000 MWp, representing an electricity production of about 20% for the whole of Belgium. Taking into account the political agreements between the regional and federal governments, this share will exceed 40% in 2030. Recent increases in Belgian and European climate targets, coupled with the economic dynamism of these two sectors, mean that almost half of our electricity supply will come from wind and photovoltaic power in 2030.
Such an increase in the capacity of this sector requires a rapid transition to a more flexible energy system. While the production profiles of wind and solar photovoltaic energy are inherently complementary (when wind is scarce, sunshine is usually present and vice versa), it is necessary to complement them with flexibility tools such as storage, intelligent demand management through consumption shifts, optimised interconnections and optimal use of interactions with other energy sectors (electric vehicles, heat pumps, green hydrogen…). This requires the development of a proactive energy policy that removes a range of barriers to technological development and is based on incentive pricing.
There is a need for a stable and ambitious development framework for renewable energy sources, based on a clear policy for the placement of large and small PV installations. For onshore wind energy, it is essential that governments improve the legal certainty of the wind sector by imposing a strict deadline for appeals for annulment to the Council of State and the Council for Permit Disputes and promote the installation of the best available technologies (larger wind turbines). Furthermore, the sector is pushing for the removal of territorial restrictions for wind turbine installations (e.g. military training grounds) and the reduction of grid connection costs and wind loads.
As for offshore wind energy, the federal government has committed itself to doubling the current installed capacity. Moreover, in the framework of the European Green Deal, the government, like other EU Member States, will have to further increase its level of ambition and, despite the limited maritime areas available to Belgium, will have to seek additional space so that Belgium can have 6 GW of offshore wind capacity by 2030.
The renewable energy federations thus advocate the concretisation of an energy policy based on a rapid increase in the capacity of so-called variable renewable energy and flexibility instruments, avoiding any overcapacity of fossil fuels that would jeopardise the achievement of our climate objectives. At a time when Belgium is being scolded for failing to meet the EU’s renewable energy target, the sector has succeeded in creating a socio-economic sector in Belgium that can meet today’s climate, energy and economic challenges.