In a few years, citizens, municipalities, associations and SMEs will be able to enjoy joint ownership of Belgium’s offshore windmills, following the approval by the Council of Ministers of a proposal to that effect by Energy Minister Tinne Van der Straeten.
The plan should enable citizens to play a more active role in the electricity market, according to Van der Straeten.
“Energy supply is, above all, a question for the people [to decide on],” she noted, “I wish to involve our citizens so as to create a local support base. Belgium is currently fifth in the world in terms of offshore windmills.”
“Offshore windmills are a national pride, just like our fries, our chocolate and our beer,” Van der Straeten said. “I want all Belgians to be able to share in this pride and reap the benefits.”
From 2023, Belgian citizens will be able to form collectivities and invest together in offshore windmills while enjoying the electricity they produce. There have already been a few pilot projects involving citizen participation, but a legal framework was lacking.
Minister for the North Sea Vincent Van Quickenborne stressed that offshore windmills provided 2.2 million Belgian residents with green electricity, but he wished to double installed capacity by 2030.
“We wish to ensure that people can not only use this renewable energy, but also become joint owners, with the specialised businesses, of offshore windmills,” he added. “It’s a good investment and, in that way, the promoters can have access to additional private capital.”