Wind power in Belgium

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Wind turbine in the Thorntonbank Wind Farm.

Wind power in Belgium depends partially on regional governments (Brussels-Capital Region, Flemish Region, Walloon Region) and partially on the Belgian federal government. Wind energy producers in both the Flemish and Walloon regions get green certificates but not with the same conditions.

By year end 2015 Belgium had 2,229 MW installed capacity of windpower, 1,517 MW of which were land based and 712 MW of offshore wind power producing a total of 5,468 GWh of electricity generation.[1] The percentage of electricity demand met by wind grew to 6.7% by 2015.[1] By the end of 2019 land based wind power is planned to grow by a minimum of 339 MW whilst offshore wind power is planned to increase by around 1,500-1,600 MW.[1]

Several large offshore wind power concessions have been granted, including the Norther windfarm which plans to install 44 of the world's most powerful windturbines in 2019, the MHI Vestas V164 turbines.

On February 8, 2014, due to high winds, 16% of the consumed electricity was generated by wind turbines.[2]

Wind turbines are mainly installed in the Flemish and Walloon Regions and then offshore. Brussels-Capital Region is an urban area which is not particularly suited for large wind turbines. Smaller turbines more appropriate for urban environments are being studied but until today no technology is deemed sufficiently efficient.[3]

Timeline[edit]

Windmills of Sint-Janshuismolen, Bruges, built in 1770.

2016

Official targets for wind power in Belgium are set at 3,000 MW for land-based wind power and 2,741 MW for offshore wind:and by 2020[4]

2012

The expanding capacity and the intermittent nature of wind power created challenges for grid operator Elia. Requiring accurate wind forecasts[5] and infrastructure changes. In particular transporting the large amounts of electricity generated offshore inland required work. The construction of various 150 kV connections was preparing the electricity grid to connect up 900 MW of offshore wind turbines. By 2016 the Stevin Project aims to expand this further by constructing new high voltage substations in Zeebrugge and Zomergem and a double 380 kV connection between them.[6]

2010

In September 2010, a survey was held by the Hogeschool West-Vlaanderen among more than 800 families who live very close to wind turbines in West Flanders. The results were better than expected. Before the turbines were constructed 59.3% were satisfied, this percentage rose to 68.3 after they were constructed. In addition 83.9% didn't oppose the construction of additional wind turbines.[7] There has however also been fierce protest against some projects for example plans to construct turbines in Mol and Hannut have stalled.[8][9]

2009

The Belgian State committed to generate 13% of its energy (electricity, transport and heating) from sustainable sources by 2020. The annual wind energy potential in Belgium is estimated at 8.2 TWh (5.4 TWh offshore, 2.8 TWh onshore).[10] This requires a production capacity of 2.1 GW offshore and 1.1 GW onshore. Wind energy makes up 47% of the 17 TWh renewable energy potential by 2020, according to the GEMIX report.[10]

2008

In 2008, Belgium consumed 88 TWh of electricity (excluding electricity that was not transported on the high voltage grid).

Installed capacity and generation[edit]

Wind power installed capacity (MW) and generation (GWh) in Belgium.[1]
Year Offshore Land-based Total electricity generation all sources (GWh) Total wind generation (GWh) Electrical generation met by wind (%)*
Capacity (MW) Generation (GWh) Capacity (MW) Generation (GWh)
2000 14 16 84,012 16 0.02%
2001 26 37 79,821 37 0.05%
2002 31 57 82,069 57 0.07%
2003 67 88 84,643 88 0.10%
2004 96 142 85,025 142 0.17%
2005 167 227 87,025 227 0.26%
2006 212 366 85,617 366 0.43%
2007 276 491 88,822 491 0.55%
2008 324 637 84,930 637 0.75%
2009 32 82 577 914 91,235 996 1.09%
2010 197 190 716 1,102 95,189 1,292 1.36%
2011 197 709 873 1,603 90,241 2,312 2.56%
2012 381 854 989 1,897 82,923 2,751 3.32%
2013 708 1,540 1,084 2,147 83,526 3,687 4.41%
2014 708 2,216 1,222 2,398 72,687 4,614 6.35%
2015 712 2,613 1,517 2,855 68,138 5,468 8.02%
* Based on table without other adjustments.

Land based installed wind capacity grew to 1,517 MW in 2015 producing 2,855 GWh of electricity, a figure almost matched by the 712 MW offshore installed capacity producing 2,613 GWh,[1] reflecting the better wind conditions at sea and associated higher capacity factor. A rough calculation shows that in 2015 1.88 GWh were produced by each MW capacity of land based wind power whilst sea base capacity produced 3.67 GWh, although the difference may be exaggerated somewhat due to land based capacity growing significantly throughout the year. In 2015 the capacity factors for land based wind power in Belgium was 21.40% and for offshore 41.90%.[1] Offshore wind power thus operates at its full capacity almost twice as often on average as compared to onshore wind power in Belgium.

Offshore wind farms in the Belgian part of the North Sea[edit]

Offshore wind power current and future installations by project, 2018
Project name MW Turbines Date operational
C-Power 325 54 Phase 1 operational since 2009

Phase 2 operational since 2012
Phase 3 operational since 2013

Belwind 171 56 55 turbines operational since 2010

1 turbine operational since 2013

Northwind 216 72 Operational since 2014
Nobelwind 165 50 Operational since 2017
Rentel 309 42 Operational since 2018
Total operational 1186 274 End 2018
Norther 370 44 Commissioning expected 2019
Northwester 2 219 23 Commissioning expected 2020
Seamade 487 58 Commissioning expected 2020
Total in construction 1076 125 from End 2020
Total capacity 2262 399 from End 2020


By year end 2018 Belgium had five active offshore wind power projects totalling 274 turbines and 1186 MW of power. A further 3 offshore projects are in the construction phase and projected to total an additional 1076 MW of windpower capacity in 2020. The distance of the projects from shore typically range from 23 to 54 km, and the bathymetry of the water indicates the turbines will be based in waters typically between 14 and 40 metres deep.[11]

Active projects[edit]

C-Power[edit]

C-Power (Thorntonbank) was the first wind farm operational in the Belgian North Sea. Its first construction phase was completed in May 2009.[12] This phase was a demonstration phase, with the installation of 6 turbines of 5 MW (= 30 MW).[13] The construction of the second and the third phases was finalized on September 2013.[14] A total of 48 turbines of 6.15 MW were installed during thoses two phases (= 295.2 MW).[13] C-Power has therefore a total of 54 turbines, with a combined capacity of 325.2 MW. The turbines generate around 1050 GWh per year, which can provide electricity to 300.000 homes.[15]

Belwind[edit]

Belwind (Bligh Bank Offshore Wind Farm) has an installed capacity of 165 MW, which can provide electricity to 160.000 homes. Belwind's wind farm is operational since December 2010.[16]

Northwind[edit]

Northwind is located on the Lodewijk Bank and has a total of 72 turbines of 3MW each, with a combined capacity of 216 MW. It was commissioned in May 2014 and can provide electricity to 250.000 homes.[17]

Nobelwind[edit]

Nobelwind's construction was completed in May 2017 and the wind farm is fully operational since December 2017.[18] With its 50 windturbines of 3,3 MW each, the farm has a combined capacity of 165 MW, which can provide electricity to 160.000 homes.[19]

Rentel[edit]

A project by Otary RS. Rentel has a total of 42 turbines of 7.35 MW each, with a combined capacity of 309 MW.[20] It was commissioned in September 2018 and can provide electricity to 300.000 homes.[21] The transformer platform also carries electricity from Seastar, Mermaid and Northwester 2.[22]

Planned projects[edit]

Norther[edit]

The Norther wind farm will comprise 44 Vestas turbines with a 370 MW capacity. The Norther wind turbines will start to produce green energy in 2019.[23]

Northwester 2[edit]

A project by Parkwind NV. he Northwester 2 farm will comprise 23 Vestas turbines with a 219 MW capacity.[24] The Northwester 2 wind turbines will be operational and start producing green energy in 2020.[25]

Seamade[edit]

A project by Otary RS. The Seamade wind farm is the result of the merger of the former Seastar and Mermaid projects. It will therefore consist of two zones, the Seastar zone and the Mermaid zone, and 58 Siemens turbines with a capacity of 487 MW. The Seamade wind turbines will start producing green energy in 2020.[26]

Energy island[edit]

In order to use the generation capacity more efficiently plans are being made to construct an artificial island 3 km from Wenduine. On the island a lake would function as the reservoir of a pumped storage power station, estimated to produce 300 MW for 3 hours a day.[27] The project is currently only in the concept phase. As of july 2018, no progress has been made.

Historical data Flemish region[edit]

Year Capacity (MW)

(end of year)

Number of turbines

(end of year)

Production (GWh)

(calculated according to
Directive 2009/28/EC)

2006 128.9 112 240
2007 149.2 122 287
2008 173.3 111 336
2009 231.8 145 391
2010 264.9 150 402
2011 341.1 191 541
2012 420 228

sources:[28][29][30]

At the end of 2011 there were 191 operational onshore wind turbines with a combined capacity of 341.7MW. Due to the a lack of vast open spaces the wind turbines are installed in more than 60 small groups throughout the region. Often along highways or canals and in industrial or agricultural areas.[31]

The operators of these wind farms are diverse. Some are operated by companies that specialize in wind power like Aspiravi or Electrawinds. Others by traditional electricity producers Electrabel and SPE. Several are operated by cooperatives like Ecopower or Aspiravi Samen. Finally a few are operated by organisations with a different core business like retail network Colruyt or pharmaceutical company Pfizer as part of a Corporate social responsibility strategy. Colruyt's turbines produce an estimated 13.75 GWh annually.[32]

Installed capacity per province (as of 2012):

Historical data Walloon Region[edit]

Wind farm in Estinnes.
Date Capacity (MW) Number of turbines Estimated annual

production (GWh)

2005 50.0 71
2007 129.9 280
2009 206.0 117 458
20/1/2011 442.3 204 984
27/6/2012 543.9 247 1,197

sources:[33][34][35][36][37]

This region is home to the largest turbines in Belgium. The Windvision wind farm near Estinnes houses 11 Enercon E-126 turbines each with a total height of 198.5 metres and a generation power of 6 MW. The park is part of the EU demonstration project 7MW-WEC-by-11 nine turbines will be upgraded to 7.5 MW.[38][39]

Greenwind built a 25 MW park of 10 turbines of 2.5 MW in Froidchappelle.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f "p91 IEA Wind Annual Report for 2015, "Energy Observatorium, Federal Public Service of Economy"".
  2. ^ "Nieuwe records voor windenergie door winderige winter". De Standaard. 2014-02-10. Retrieved 9 April 2014.
  3. ^ "Windturbines" (PDF). Brussels Instituut voor Milieubeheer.
  4. ^ "Annual Reports - IEA Wind TCP". community.ieawind.org. Retrieved 2017-12-06.
  5. ^ "Forecast and actual wind power generation" (PDF). Elia.
  6. ^ "Stevin". elia. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  7. ^ "Studie Howest: windmolens beter onthaald dan gedacht". Krant van West-Vlaanderen. 2010-09-27. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  8. ^ "Le "non" aux éoliennes". DHnet. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  9. ^ "Ecopower mag geen windmolens bouwen in Mol". vrtnieuws. Retrieved 25 December 2012.
  10. ^ a b "Quel mix energetique ideal pour la Belgique aux horizons 2020 et 2030" (PDF). p. 5. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2011-07-17. Retrieved 2009-10-23.
  11. ^ http://www.belgianoffshoreplatform.be/en/
  12. ^ http://www.c-power.be/index.php/project-phase-1/overview
  13. ^ a b http://www.c-power.be/index.php/general-info/windfarm-layout
  14. ^ [1]
  15. ^ http://www.c-power.be/index.php/general-info/project-details
  16. ^ http://www.parkwind.eu/en/projects/about?scroll=Belwind
  17. ^ http://www.parkwind.eu/en/projects/about?scroll=Northwind
  18. ^ http://www.nobelwind.eu/#description
  19. ^ http://www.parkwind.eu/en/projects/about?scroll=Nobelwind
  20. ^ http://www.rentel.be/en/about-rentel
  21. ^ https://rentel.be/en/news/detail/ostend-be-offshore-installation-rentel-wind-turbines-completed
  22. ^ Foxwell, David (2019-09-11). "Royal visit sees Belgian power hub inaugurated". Riviera Maritime Media.
  23. ^ http://www.norther.be/
  24. ^ https://press.parkwind.eu/financial-close-signals-start-of-construction-of-219-mw-northwester-2-offshore-wind-power-plant
  25. ^ https://press.parkwind.eu/northwester-2-to-deliver-224-mw-offshore-energy-by-2020
  26. ^ https://otary.be/en/news/detail/monday-3-december-2018-ostend-be-seamade-reaches-financial-close-for-its-487-mw-offshore-wind-farm-in-the-belgian-north-sea
  27. ^ "Binnen vijf jaar eiland voor onze kust". De Standaard (in Dutch). 17 January 2013.
  28. ^ "Lijst van operationele windturbines in Vlaanderen".[permanent dead link]
  29. ^ K. Jespers; K. Aernouts; S. Vangeel (November 2011). "Inventaris duurzame energie in Vlaanderen 2010 DEEL I: hernieuwbare energie" (PDF). VITO. p. 5. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  30. ^ "marktrapport '11 VREG_" (PDF). vreg. Retrieved 6 November 2012.
  31. ^ "Summary on shore windpower 2011" (PDF). organisatie duurzame energie. Retrieved 4 November 2012.
  32. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-01-19. Retrieved 2012-11-04.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  33. ^ Environ 500 éoliennes en Belgique, Lalibre.be, 11 janvier 2012
  34. ^ "Energie 4 n°11". September 2009.
  35. ^ [2] Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine
  36. ^ "Situation de l'éolien en Région wallonne au 27/06/12" (PDF). APERe.
  37. ^ "Situation de l'éolien en Région Wallonne au 20/01/2011" (PDF). APERe. Retrieved 24 December 2012.
  38. ^ "Enercon E-126" (PDF). Elia. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-15.
  39. ^ "Pilot Demonstration of Eleven 7MW-Class WEC at Estinnes in Belgium". WIP Munich. Retrieved 25 December 2012.

External links[edit]