Wind power will play a key role in helping Belgium achieve its target for 13% of energy from renewable sources by 2020, from just 2.2% in 2005. According to a study by renewable energy association, Edora, renewables could provide as much as 14.11% of all energy in Belgium. "The development of this production will require significant support in the first years," it says, including investment to upgrade the electricity network and connect offshore wind plant, but it will "allow the Belgian economy to anticipate future energy challenges." Under the Edora scenario, offshore wind would account for 16% of all renewable energy, and onshore a further 13%, leaving the sector accounting for almost a third of the renewables capacity required.
Belgium's EU renewable energy target means around 15-20% of the country's electricity should come from green sources. Edora says 18-22% is possible. Wind would be the key technology, with the potential to supply almost 60% of all green electricity. More than 2 GW of offshore capacity is planned. That alone will generate around 6 TWh a year, contributing around 32% of the 19 TWh Edora says can be achieved from all renewables and 5.8% of electricity demand. Onshore would add a further 5 TWh, or 26% of the renewables electricity and around 5% of total demand. Belgium's federal planning bureau is less optimistic than Edora, suggesting offshore wind will generate around 5.4 TWh by 2020 and onshore just 2.8 TWh.
Edora says for the maximum potential to be realised from renewables, Belgium's authorities need to adapt infrastructure, remove administrative barriers and harmonise the incentive mechanisms - each of the country's three regions, Flanders, Wallonia and Brussels, have separate systems in place. Less than 400 MW of wind plant is operating in Belgium, most of it onshore (Windpower Monthly, March 2009). Several studies suggest the total realistic potential for onshore wind is 1600-2000 MW, although Edora says if zones now reserved for air traffic were freed up for wind development and if grid capacity was increased, that volume could be increased to 3100 MW, albeit not until 2030. Within the same timeframe, offshore capacity could rise to 3800 MW. Estimated production would be 6.82 TWh onshore and 14.44 GWh offshore, it says.
Belgium's authorities agree that significant wind development is required. Over the past year there have been renewed pledges of support by both federal and regional governments and a number of significant policy initiatives announced. This includes publication of provincial wind plans in West and East Flanders as well as Antwerp, while the Flemish government has approved a draft decree that will speed up and simplify the project authorisation process and abolish some restrictions, such as those for wind farms on agricultural land.
Gail Rajgor, Windpower Monthly.