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.

At year end 2015 Belgium had 2,229 MW installed capacity of windpower, 712 MW of which was offshore based, producing a total of 5,468 GWh of electricity generation.[1] The percentage of electricity met by wind grew from under 1% in 2008 to 8.03% 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] On February 8, 2014, due to high winds, 16% of the consumed electricity was generated by wind turbines.[2]

Background[edit]

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

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).[3] 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.[3] In 2008, Belgium consumed 88 TWh of electricity (excluding electricity that was not transported on the high voltage grid).

Wind turbines are mainly installed offshore and in the Flemish and Walloon Regions. 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.[4]

The expanding capacity and the intermittent nature of wind power creates 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. Currently the construction of various 150 kV connections has prepared 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]

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]

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 8.03%

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[edit]

Offshore wind power current and future installations by project, 2015[1]
Project name MW Turbines Date operational
C-Power 326.2 54 Operational since Sep 2013
Northwind 216 72 Operational since May 2014
Belwind 171 66 65 Turbines since 2010 and 1 since 2014
Total Operational (end 2015) 713.2 192 End 2015
Norther/North Sea Power 300–350 30-60 Planning 2016–2017
Nobelwind 165 50 Planning 2017
Rentel 288–312 48 Planning 2017–2018
Seastar 246 41 Planning 2017-2018
Mermaid 232–266 27-41 Planning 2018
Northwester 2 217–224 22-32 Planning 2018
Mermaid Wave 20-61 4 batteries Concession granted
Total future new installations 1,468-1,624 (+ 4 batteries) 218-272 from End 2018

By year end 2015 Belgium had three active offshore wind power projects totalling 192 turbines and 713.2 MW of power.[1] A further 7 offshore projects are in the planning and projected to total and additional 1468-1624 MW of windpower capacity from 2018.[1] The distance of the projects from shore typically range from 21 to 52 km, and the bathymetry of the water indicates the turbines will be based in waters typically between 12 and 42 metres deep.[1]

Wind farm concessions in the North Sea.[edit]

By Royal Order of May 2004[10] an area is reserved for the production of renewable energy. This area was subdivided into seven concessions. All of which have since been awarded to project developers. Three projects are already producing electricity, the others are in various stages of planning.[11] [1]

Active projects[edit]

Wind farm concessions in the North Sea.

Belwind[edit]

The Bligh Bank Offshore Wind Farm will have an installed capacity of 330 MW and is expected to produce 1.1 TWh annually.[10] The first half of the farm (165 MW) was completed on 9 December 2010.[11] The construction of the second phase is planned for 2016.[12]

C-Power[edit]

The first two construction phases of the Thorntonbank Wind Farm were completed in 2012.[13] The third and final phase extended the capacity to about 325 MW. The turbines will produce an estimated 1 TWh a year.[14][15]

Northwind[edit]

72 turbines with a combined capacity of 216 MW on the Lodewijk Bank. Yearly production is estimated at 0.875 TWh. Construction began in 2013. Full operation began in June 2014.[16]

Planned projects[edit]

Norther[edit]

Planned capacity is 300-350MW. Planning is expected to start in 2016-2017[1]

Nobelwind[edit]

Planned capacity is 165MW and 50 turbines.[1]

Rentel[edit]

A project by Otary RS. Planned capacity 288-312MW[1]

Seastar[edit]

A project by Otary RS. Planned capacity 246 MW[1]

THV Mermaid[edit]

Partnership between Otary RS and Electrabel. Plans include wind turbines producing 232-266 MW, an additional 20MW will be extracted from wave energy.[20]

Northwester 2[edit]

Planned capacity 217-224 MW.[1]

Mermaid Wave[edit]

Planned capacity 20-61 MW.[1]

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.[17] The project is currently only in the concept phase.

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:[18][19][20]

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.[21]

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.[22]

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:[23][24][25][26][27]

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.[28][29]

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 g h i j k l m n o p q "p92 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. ^ a b "Quel mix energetique ideal pour la Belgique aux horizons 2020 et 2030" (PDF). p. 5. 
  4. ^ "Windturbines" (PDF). Brussels Instituut voor Milieubeheer. 
  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. ^ "Belwind en Northwind versterkt door nieuwe Japanse partner - Meewind". Meewind.nl. 2013-09-30. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  11. ^ Toespraak van Eerste Minister Yves Leterme bij de inhuldiging van het Belwind windturbinepark op de Blighbank (Noordzee), 9 December 2010. Accessed: 10 December 2010.
  12. ^ "Nobelwind Project Page". Nobelwind.eu. nobelwind.eu. Retrieved 16 February 2015. 
  13. ^ "REpower: C-Power's offshore wind farm Thornton Bank II installed" (PDF). REpower. 2012-07-27. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  14. ^ [1] Archived March 7, 2009, at the Wayback Machine.
  15. ^ Phase 2 complete
  16. ^ Northwind Offshore Wind Farm
  17. ^ "Binnen vijf jaar eiland voor onze kust". De Standaard (in Dutch). 17 January 2013. 
  18. ^ "Lijst van operationele windturbines in Vlaanderen". 
  19. ^ 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. 
  20. ^ "marktrapport '11 VREG_" (PDF). vreg. Retrieved 6 November 2012. 
  21. ^ "Summary on shore windpower 2011" (PDF). organisatie duurzame energie. Retrieved 4 November 2012. 
  22. ^ [2][dead link]
  23. ^ Environ 500 éoliennes en Belgique, Lalibre.be, 11 janvier 2012
  24. ^ "Energie 4 n°11". September 2009. 
  25. ^ [3] Archived July 21, 2011, at the Wayback Machine.
  26. ^ "Situation de l'éolien en Région wallonne au 27/06/12" (PDF). APERe. 
  27. ^ "Situation de l'éolien en Région Wallonne au 20/01/2011" (PDF). APERe. Retrieved 24 December 2012. 
  28. ^ "Enercon E-126" (PDF). Elia. 15 May 2009. Retrieved 2013-10-15. 
  29. ^ "Pilot Demonstration of Eleven 7MW-Class WEC at Estinnes in Belgium". WIP Munich. Retrieved 25 December 2012. 

External links[edit]