Worldwide, Belgium occupies the 4th place in terms of installed capacity for offshore wind energy; a remarkable achievement even offering a margin of progression. After completion of the SeaMade wind farm, the installed capacity will be 2.262 MW, or the equivalent of the consumption of 2,2 million households. This has been shown by figures from the Belgian Offshore Platform.
The Belgian Offshore Platform unites the main Belgian players investing in wind energy in the Belgian North Sea. Last summer, it published an overview of our offshore wind production. At the time, with a production capacity of 1.775 MW, wind energy in the Belgian North Sea provided the equivalent of the electricity consumption of 1,8 million households. Our country was only preceded by the United Kingdom, Germany and China. When making the per capita comparison, we did even better than Germany and China. Meanwhile, the Belgian installed capacity has further increased, which reinforces our position.
High capacity + lots of wind = new records
Due to the continuous expansion of the number of wind turbines, the records in the field of electricity production based on wind energy are constantly being broken. The Federal Public Service Economy considers February 2020 as a record month, with 1.727 GWh of electricity production (or about 25% of the domestic consumption). In this context, the offshore windmill production amounted to 803 GWh. We owe these records in part to the favorable weather conditions. The monthly tables of the RMI (Royal Meteorological Institute) show that the wind has blown with an average speed of 5,7 meters per second, which is a lot more than the average value of 4,1 meters per second. During the period between November 2019 and March 2020, offshore wind energy covered approximately 9% of the global electricity demand in Belgium.
The sector keeps investing
Moreover, the growth of wind energy in our country seems guaranteed for the next few years. For the next 10 years, the Flemish Wind Energy Association (VWEA) plans a total investment of at least 1 billion euros. This corresponds to an annual growth of 100 MW in terms of installed capacity. These efforts include new wind farms as well as the progressive replacement of wind turbines at the end of their life cycle. According to the VWEA, this ambition is perfectly in line with the Flemish government’s objectives.
Sustainability and employment
This association emphasizes that the wind energy industry in Flanders employs 3.600 people and constitutes an important engine for the economic recovery after Covid-19. Moreover, investments in wind energy fit within the pursuit of a circular economy. “Wind energy makes us less dependent on primary raw materials, which contributes to a sustainable electricity supply, cleaner air and less water consumption for electricity generation,” according to the VWA.
The popularity of wind energy is also growing worldwide. For the next 10 years, the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC) predicts a growth of 205 GW in terms of installed capacity, or 15 GW more than what the GWEC had expected last year.