Offshore wind energy trends in Belgium and the Netherlands
In a time when governments and countries are even more aware of climate changes and settling environmental agreements, offshore wind energy will be crucial for clean energy transitions, mainly in Europe. Belgium and Netherlands are two of the countries with enormous potential to register in the next few years an exponential growth in offshore wind energy.
Offshore wind energy will help reach the decarbonization goals, in the next decades, not only in Europe but globally. By 2021, offshore wind was 12% of the power generation in Europe. With offshore wind turbines getting bigger and generating more power, offshore wind will contribute even more to clean energy.
Europe is one of the leaders in offshore wind, followed closely by China. Being a thriving sector, it encourages government policies, which in turn helps to attract good investment. Belgium and Netherlands are repeatedly among the five European countries with more cumulative capacity and grid-connected offshore wind turbines.
The offshore wind energy in Belgium
Belgium was one of the pioneer countries in offshore wind energy. For the next two decades, it will also be one of the key countries in the European offshore wind energy growth.
In 2021, the country didn’t connect any offshore wind farm to the grid. However, Belgium was the second country to install more offshore capacity in 2020, despite the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak. The country is now the fifth with more offshore installed capacity with 2261MW. The Northwester 2 and the Seamade were the last two wind farms connected to the grid in 2020. The former was the first one to use Vestas V164-9.5 MW wind turbines.
With the first year of the Belgian North Sea wind energy zone completely operational, Belgium’s contribution to clean energy keeps on rising. In 2021, the 399 offshore wind turbines produced 6.77TWh. That is enough power for the annual electricity demand of almost 2 million households or 8% of the total electricity demand in Belgium.
Since the country has such high ambitions for offshore wind, Belgium will face some challenges moving forward. The biggest being the limited space of the Belgian sea. For the country to meet 6GW of offshore wind energy by 2050, it needs to speed up some actions:
- Reinforce the onshore grid.
- Start the wind farm clustering for the new zones.
- Execute offshore hybrid projects.
- Work with the other countries in the North Sea Cooperation to address the cumulative environmental impact of offshore development.
In fact, the Belgium federal government is working on the legislative framework for a tender to add 3.5GW of offshore capacity to the Princess Elisabeth area. These wind farms could be connected at the beginning of 2028.
Belgium is preparing to also be a pioneer in the decommissioning of offshore wind turbines. Therefore, the country is discussing the aspects and challenges of it. Since there is no concrete policy, knowledge, or supply chain, it will need some time to prepare for this phase.
The offshore wind energy in the Netherlands
While the country is still the home of the GE Haliade-X Prototype, considered the most powerful offshore wind turbine so far, the Netherlands also added to the grid, in 2021, two more offshore wind farms. The Fryslan and Borssele 3&4 offshore wind farms put the country as the third one with more capacity installed last year, with 392MW.
With these, the offshore wind capacity in the Netherlands increased up to almost 3GW, representing 11% of the electricity demand. In the next two years, the country is expected to add the Hollandse Kust Zuid 1&2 offshore wind farm, with 70 Siemens Gamesa wind turbines.
As far as offshore wind energy is moving forward, the country has a demanding challenge ahead. Last year, the Dutch Government set a new offshore target for 2030. On top of the 11.5GW of offshore capacity already announced, it added 10.7GW more, bringing a total of 22.2GW. In order to do that, the Netherlands is proposing the opening of five new areas to build additional wind farms.
Endiprev at the Belgian Offshore Days 2022
In just a few days, Endiprev will exhibit in the Belgian Offshore Days 2022 to better understand the industry’s future in Belgium and the Netherlands. Now more than ever, we need to prepare our teams for the challenges the industry is about to face to meet the 2050 goals.
From March 23rd to 24th, you can visit our team at Stand 10. We are looking forward to meeting with our customers to talk about our services in offshore wind energy.