A citizen-founded wind turbine project was inaugurated in the Liège Region on Saturday by Walloon Energy Minister Philippe Henry (Ecolo) together with members of the HesbEnergie cooperative, which initiated the project.
The cooperative was created in late 2013 with the aim of producing renewable energy in the Hesbaye area. “We think citizens also need to participate in the necessary energy transition due to climate change,” said Bernard Deboyser, managing director of the cooperative, in which 1,100 persons have taken shares.
This is the idea behind the creation of the wind turbine, in partnership with the Luminus gas and electricity utility. The 150-metre-high structure is located in a park on the Route de Glons in Juprelle commune. The wind farm has a total of five wind turbines, Belga News Agency reports.
The new wind turbine was financed and built by the cooperative, which will now operate it.
“We have a capital of €1.3 million which enabled us to build the wind turbine, but since it cost us more – €5 million – a bank loan covered the rest,” the managing director said. The loan is to be repaid in 14 years with the income from the sale of the electricity.
The wind turbine should be able to provide enough electricity for 2,000 local households and prevent 2,400 tonnes of CO2 emissions.
"At the time, there was already talk of climate change, but it wasn’t as visible as it is today,” said the group’s president, Stéphane De Walque. “After what happened this summer, the severity of these changes can no longer be denied. The inauguration of our second wind turbine is an important step.”
HesbEnergie already has a wind turbine that is up and running in Fernelmont, near Namur, as well as three thermal energy plants. Other projects are currently in various stages of development.
In three years’ time, the cooperative hopes to have four wind turbines in operation and three hydroelectric plants.