Proposals for credit trading spark interest -- Belgian market on the move

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The Flemish government's proposal late last year for a 3% target of energy production from renewables by 2004 -- to be facilitated by a market for trade in green power credits -- has sparked a wave of interest in wind power development in Belgium, both onshore and offshore. With nowhere near enough renewable energy available to meet the target, market players are keen to secure credits in good time. The regulatory details of the green credit market legislation, however, will take some time to finalise in Belgium's complicated political landscape.

Applications for two major offshore wind stations have been bubbling for the past nine months and on January 29 secretary of state Olivier Deleuze granted a licence to C-Power for a 100 MW plant on the Wenduine sandbank between Ostende and Zeebrugge. C-Power is a consortium of electricity distributor Interelectra, which will take the power from the plant, construction company Dredging International and Belgian wind turbine manufacturer Turbowinds.

Deleuze's department is not the only one with a say in the matter, however. Environment minister Magda Aelvoet must also give her approval, the deadline for which is not until August 5. In view of a surge of public opposition immediately after the site licence was granted by Deleuze, there could be many rounds of consultation ahead in the environmental approval process.

A decision by Deleuze on a second offshore plant, largely in the same coastal waters of the North Sea as the C-Power site, was due last month. Oil consortium TotalFinaElf and Seanergy, a joint venture between electricity producers Electrabel and SPE and building company Jan de Nul, are competing for an overlapping area off the Belgian coastline, just 65 kilometres long.

On land, but only just, a huge new project on the western harbour wall at Zeebrugge won approval right at the end of last year. The port is developing a 28 MW wind station comprising 14 Vestas 2 MW turbines. Power will be sold to Belgium's second utility, SPE. Construction is expected to start in 2004 once all consultation procedures are complete. Zeebrugge's lead is one that the port authorities of Antwerp and Gent might well follow. Both have announced an interest in developing wind plant within their respective port precincts. Gent's plans are vague as yet, but appear to be serious. Meantime, Antwerp, clearly keen to polish its green image, might start construction of a limited number of turbines this year.

More firmly on land than the port projects, Flemish regional minister Steve Stevaert has been pursuing a program for siting single wind turbines along many of Belgium's main roads (Windpower Monthly, January 2002). The government has received nine responses to its invitation for tenders to develop the sites, all on public land in the provinces of West and East Flanders

Belgium's largest wind plant, near Bruges, also went on-line at the end of last year, built by Electrabel and Electrawinds. Nine 600 kW units from Turbowinds were added to the existing five at the site. Earlier in 2001, Electrabel started operation of a wind plant at Schelle comprising three Enron Wind 1.5 MW turbines. In Eeklo, a small town near Gent, EcoPower inaugurated two Enercon 1.8 MW turbines.

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