Belgium’s Secretary of State for the North Sea has proposed increasing the size of the zone allocated to new offshore windfarms under the country’s new Marine Spatial Plan.
Philippe De Backer said the size of the zone could be increased by 25%, which would enable turbines to spaced further apart and operate more efficiently as a result. Mr De Backer said he believed the plan would enable the cost of energy from new offshore windfarms to fall further and facilitate zero-subsidy bids.
“I believe in a clean future with renewable energy. But this must also remain affordable for everyone. By increasing the new windfarm zone, the price of energy will fall and make windfarms possible without subsidies,” Mr De Backer claimed.
As highlighted here, April saw the authorities in Belgium announce plans for offshore wind energy that included targets of 2.2 GW by 2020 and to 4 GW by 2030. “The North Sea is a crucial partner in the transition towards renewable energy,” Mr De Backer said when the announcement was made.
The Belgian Government wants to phase out two nuclear power plants that account for 5.9 GW of capacity. The reactors at Doel and Tihange have experienced a series of technical problems and are due to close by 2025. Belgium needs wind energy to replace them but is a relatively small country with little room for additional onshore capacity. That makes offshore wind even more important.
With new offshore windfarms urgently required, Belgium needs a new marine spatial plan for after 2020. This is currently being discussed and once completed will lead to new concessions and tenders.
Mr De Backer had proposed expanding capacity for offshore wind with an additional 221-km2 zone, capable of accommodating at least 1.7 GW of additional offshore wind capacity. Industry associations said the zone identified by the government was not large enough and would mean the wake effect around turbines would adversely affect yields. Developers would need to take into account that a very compressed zone would prevent them from optimising the configuration of any windfarms built in it and that could drive up rather than reduce costs.
However, following a public consultation, Mr De Backer now proposes to enlarge that zone by another 60 km². Mr De Backer is also working on a new financing system and would like to see the new offshore wind capacity built without subsidy.
The Offshore Wind Journal Conference in London 5 February 2019 will address key issues including global market developments, increasing turbine sizes, floating offshore wind and industry regulations.