Energy crisis: Offshore wind farms will have to pay back excess profits

Energy crisis: Offshore wind farms will have to pay back excess profits
As Belgium looks to expand its green energy provision, more investment in infrastructure is needed. Credit: Nicolas Maeterlinck / Belga

Offshore wind farms that make excessive profits due to the historically high electricity prices will have to pay back those earnings, according to Belgium’s federal energy regulator (CREG).

An amendment to a Royal Decree to this effect is currently in the works, Belga News Agency reports.

Because of the historically high prices for natural gas and electricity, the government is looking at the extent to which it can return excess or exceptional profits to consumers.

Starting with gas and nuclear, but not excluding renewables

It is beginning by looking at operators of gas plants and nuclear power plants, but other players on the market are also being considered, CREG says, for example, the hydroelectric power station at Coo in Wallonia and the wind farms at sea.

In concrete terms, this concerns the five most recent wind farms that have been built off the Belgian coast, which benefit from variable support.

This means that support is paid if the electricity price on the market is below the production costs of the park, which allows the farms to achieve a certain return.

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But if the electricity prices on the market - as is the case today - are very high, then the profits are much higher than the agreed return. In that case, the farms would have to pay money back to the government.

However, this repayment is not formally included in the existing royal decree, says CREG.

“We are discussing this with the [energy providers], but the Royal Decree has to be amended. That should happen in the coming months,” said CREG director Laurent Jacquet.

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