Cuts to offshore windmill subsidies could offset high consumer energy bills

Cuts to offshore windmill subsidies could offset high consumer energy bills
The Thornton Bank wind farm 30km off the Belgian coast. © RWE

The Belgian government is considering cutting support for offshore wind farms by €177 million this winter and using this windfall to lower household and business energy bills.

Energy prices are part of the equation used by the Belgian government when calculating financial support for wind farms. Initially, wind farm operators were due to receive federal subsidies worth €812 million, Belga News Agency reports.

But with current energy prices reaching record highs, more money is flowing to wind turbine operators for the energy they produce. As the price of energy increases, the federal subsidies decrease.

Belgian Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten (Green) tweeted her support for the idea of taking surplus wind farm support to help offset this winter’s high energy prices.

In just the Belgian portion of the North Sea, there are currently 399 electricity-producing wind turbines, reports Belgian Offshore Platform. These turbines alone produce nearly 10% of Belgium’s total energy needs.

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The Belgian Commission for Regulation of Electricity and Gas (CREG) estimates wind generators are due subsidies worth €635 million. The difference – €177 million – is what government officials want to use to help pay down the cost of winter energy bills for homes and businesses.

An agreement among federal ministers over how to lower energy prices remains elusive, De Standaard reports. A Friday morning meeting concluded without a deal as the ministers consider tapping other energy producers flush with cash, such as nuclear power plants.

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