Flanders raises 2020 wind target

BELGIUM: Flanders, one of the country's three regions, has increased its 2020 target for wind and solar power by a third, according to energy minister Bart Tommelein.

Up to 700MW more wind power could be installed in Flanders under the new targets (pic: Electrabel)

The target for wind energy will increase from 2,09TWh to 3.03TWh in 2020. This translates to around an additional 700MW, explained Bart Bode, director of the Flemish Wind Energy Association.

The region's current installed capacity stands at around 1GW.

The government revised the targets following the bankruptcy of a planned biomass plant capable of generating around 3.25TWh a year, and because of a change in policy away from the technology.

To help spur investment, the government also increased the duration of support for wind power projects to 20 years, up from the current 15.

"In terms of investment certainty, 20 years is very good," Bode said. The changes are likely to come into effect from January 2019.

Bode believes that building 700MW "a realistic ambition, but depends on a lot of elements."

According to the authorities, there are around 280 turbines under construction or permitted. However, if permits are appealed, court cases take two to four years on average, Bode explained.

Taller, more productive turbines would help, but are constrained by height restrictions around military and civil aviation radar.

The industry hopes some areas will become available by adapting new software for radar, especially along the coast, where there are higher wind speeds and fewer houses.

The port areas of Antwerp, Ghent and Zeebrugge also offer possibilities, but are constrained partly by bird and bat populations. The industry is in discussions with the authorities over both issues.