European Offshore 2020: Belgium - Success in planning

Despite its small coastal area, Belgium shows what can be achieved through early identification of suitable sites for offshore development, writes Shaun Campbell.

The inauguration of the 325MW Thornton Bank project in the summer lifted Belgium's installed offshore capacity to 495MW. That is still some way short of the 2GW target, but there is enough in the immediate pipeline to suggest Belgium is on course.

Construction on the 216MW Northwind project started in April 2013 and commissioning is scheduled for 2014. By the end of 2015, the 360MW Norther and 165MW Belwind 2 projects should also be fully up and running, taking Belgium to a total of 1,236MW.

Two other projects, THV Mermaid (235-490MW), and Rentel (288-550MW), are both in the pipeline but still at a very early stage in development.

Site allocation

Belgium's success, despite having only 67 kilometres of coastline, can be attributed to the early establishment of seven zones designated exclusively for offshore wind. This little wedge of sea has been depleted to the point of being of little use as a fishery and there is no competition from the oil and gas industries. The wind industry has been free to develop without being embroiled in lengthy permitting procedures.

Current offshore capacity: 495MW

NREAP 2020 aim: 2GW

Realistic forecast: At least 1.3GW

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