Belgium has an overall 13% renewables target for 2020, up from just over 2% in 2005. With an annual electricity production in 2020 estimated at 10.5TWh, wind energy will cover 9.5% of consumption. The national plan does not present an onshore/offshore breakdown, but EWEA says offshore capacity is expected to reach 2GW by 2020. Installations are forecast to increase steadily from just over 200MW a year in 2012 to more than 480MW by 2018, with cumulative capacity in 2020 estimated at 4.32GW. "Considering recent growth, the target seems easily achievable," the association says.
Dr Fawaz Al Bitar, wind advisor for the Belgian federation of renewable energy producers EDORA, regrets this lack of ambition. "The global objective of 10.5TWh is 40% lower than the objective of 16.8TWh fixed by EDORA for 2020," he says. Dr Al Bitar believes the government needs to reduce the restrictions placed on wind farms. These include the ban on constructing turbines on military ground, aeronautical restrictions and limits on what can be built in natural areas.
Jim Williame, head of the Belgian renewable energy cooperative Ecopower, agrees. "At the moment the government believes that new capacity will come from big wind parks in harbour or offshore," he says, but adds that such parks may never see the light of day. "The possibilities for permits in harbours are limited." Bruno Claessens, wind expert at APERe, the association that promotes renewable energy, warns of increasing resistance from the general public and suggests that lifting restrictions would help to ensure better acceptance of wind power projects by local residents.