Global Wind Day took place on June 15. The perfect occasion to take a moment to assess the achievements of the offshore wind energy sector in Belgium. And to look toward the future. For if we want the transition to renewable energy to succeed, we have to think outside the box. In the future, energy must be green, smart and above all blue.
Milestone of one million families
The Rentel wind farm is currently installing its turbines in the North Sea. We are very proud to announce that our first 13 wind turbines are already supplying power to the Belgian grid. The Rentel wind farm is an offshore power plant consisting of 42 wind turbines, which provide 300,000 Belgian families with power each year. Following the construction of this fifth wind farm, electricity production in the North Sea will increase to 3600 megawatt. This will enable us to pass the milestone of one million families receiving power generated in the North Sea.
Strong figures for a young industry
In 2009 a handful of dreamers, risk-takers and believers installed the first wind turbines in the North Sea. Now, the Belgian offshore wind energy sector boasts strong figures. As from 2020 the Belgian wind farms will cover 50% of the electricity demand of all Belgian families and generate enough power to meet 10% of the total electricity demand in Belgium.
In addition, the sector breathes life into the local and Belgian economy by creating 15,000 jobs and delivering 13 billion euros of added value. Today, we are a mature sector that is able to compete in a free market and is ready to face the future. Good prospects for a sector that has in fact not yet reached its adolescence.
Capacity to be doubled after 2020
One thing is clear: offshore wind energy has conquered its place in Belgium. And in the public opinion as well. As many as 83% of all Belgians believe in offshore wind energy. It is therefore not surprising that the federal government earmarked an additional area of 211 km² for the development of new wind farms as from 2020, which should result in a doubling of offshore power production to 4 gigawatt.
This means that the offshore wind farms will be able to take over the power production of a land-based power plant. These are great prospects for the Belgian transition to renewable energy. But is it enough?
Energy must be green, smart and above all blue
Today we are installing offshore and onshore wind turbines, we cover our roofs with solar panels, we promote electric cars and we install smart meters. So we are making progress. But in order for our energy transition to succeed, we have to think outside the box.
Energy will become the chief social issue of the future, while offering the required solutions at the same time. We must have a long-term mindset and a vision. Energy must not only be green, but also, and especially, be smart. This can for instance be achieved by investing in smart grids, e-mobility and energy storage. Even with these smart solutions, the demand for energy will remain considerable. Fortunately, our North see offers a lot of space and endless possibilities to generate energy. In the future, our energy will therefore also be blue.
The North Sea as a blue power plant
In addition to offshore wind energy, we must also dare to invest in other forms of blue energy, such as tidal and wave power. We already store energy on land. Why couldn’t we do the same at sea, by means of an energy atoll, for instance? When there is no wind, we fill the reservoir with sea water and power the turbines. This way we can guarantee constant production of energy at sea.
We will turn our North Sea into a blue power plant, so that it plays a crucial role in the transition to renewable energy and the future energy mix in Belgium.
The time has come for new dreamers, risk-takers and doers. And who knows where we will stand in 10 years’ time.