Tender for turbines at motorway rest areas

BELGIUM: A local-government-owned company has issued two calls to develop wind and other renewable energy projects on its land.

Sofico is proposing turbines along its motorways and at rest stops (pic: European Roads)

Sofico manages the major road and river networks in the southern region of Wallonia. The area is aiming to produce 2.44TWh of wind energy in 2020.

The first call comprises a tender to install 1MW-plus wind turbines at motorway service stations and rest areas.

Bids are due by 18 October. While around 65 turbines could be installed, Bruno Claessens, Wallonia wind energy expert at renewables association Apere, believes 20-25 is more reasonable by 2020.

"It makes sense to encourage installation along motorways, where there is no noise nuisance and very little visual impact," said Claessens.

"Development is pretty much at a standstill in Wallonia, [so] developers will want to make the most of the opportunity," he added.

Developers would have to carry out wind studies and the normal permitting process will apply, including a full impact assessment.

Permitting usually takes five to seven years in Wallonia, largely because of a very active opposition, which appeals 95% of projects, Claessen said.

Nevertheless, Sofico hopes that, being alongside the motorway, the projects will attract less opposition.

Likely bidders include Belgian developers WindVision and Ventis, alongside major players Engie, EDF Energies Nouvelles and Eneco.

A number of French companies, including Valeco and Sameole, have also expressed an interested.

Sofico is also calling for expressions of interest for "multi-energy" projects on its land, using whatever renewable energy is best suited to the location, including wind, solar, biomass and hydro, or a combination.

Innovative ideas and projects including local consumption are especially welcome, according to Sofico. The deadline is 31 October.