International & export
The experience gained during the realization of the first offshore wind parks in Belgium has made it possible for energy companies, maritime construction companies and numerous other sub-contractors and subsidiary suppliers to develop innovative techniques and export them abroad. This expertise has manifested itself in recent times through the securing of several prestigious international contracts to implement offshore wind energy projects. 5,000,000,000 euros Offshore wind energy has the potential to become one of the fastest growing sectors in the Belgian economy in the years ahead. The construction of five additional offshore wind turbine parks (during the period 2014 to 2020) represents an investment of five billion euros. In a relatively short time, Belgium has worked its way up to become one of the top wind energy nations. The country's third place in the European rankings (behind Great Britain and Denmark) testifies to a high level of knowhow and expertise. This pioneering role gives the Belgian companies active in offshore wind a crucial advantage in the marketplace for this innovative technology. Worldwide fame Several Belgian companies are specialized in the construction and operation of offshore wind parks. In addition to providing hundreds of new jobs, various maritime engineering companies are also investing in state-of-the-art materials and equipment (including high-technology vessels and installation techniques), as well as offering innovative solutions that have brought them worldwide fame. There are also clear economic benefits for the many subsidiary contractors and suppliers: manufacturing wind turbine components, casting the foundations, constructing high-voltage substations at sea, etc. In addition to these large-scale projects, there is also a network of smaller companies working in the sector, such as the engineering study bureaus and the geological survey agencies that specialize in offshore wind. Significant additional local employment is also created in Belgian harbours and ports. Growth potential Notwithstanding the rapid rate of growth in recent years, the development of offshore wind energy is still very much in its early stages. By 2021, Europe expects to have an installed capacity of approximately 45 GW, of which the necessary construction permits for 22 GW have already been granted. In comparison with the current capacity of 8 GW, this represents an average annual growth of roughly 22%. Outside the European Union, the development of offshore wind is still in its infancy, although ambitions for the future are equally large scale. It is important that Belgium maintains its leading position in offshore wind energy. New investment in the domestic market will create export possibilities for both the short and the long term, allowing the further development of an innovative industrial sector that will generate new employment and prosperity.