The 181 wind turbines in the North Sea off the coast of Belgium produced 722,000 MWh of renewable energy during the first quarter of 2015, said BOP (Belgian Offshore Platform) on Friday. 722,000 MWh covers the electricity requirements of 800,000 households during the same period, according to the investing members of this association. Five new offshore wind farms are to be built in the coming years. There are three already: C-Power, Northwind and Belwind, with a combined capacity of 712 MW. In January, the Secretary of State for the North Sea, Bart Tommelein, announced plans to double the production of wind power within five years with the construction of five additional farms off the Belgian coast (Seastar, Mermaid, Northwester2, Norther and Rentel). The capacity of the Belwind park will also be increased.
These projects will raise Belgian offshore wind power capacity to 2,200 MW. “Offshore wind turbines will easily produce 8 TWh of electricity per year, i.e. 10% of Belgium’s total electricity requirements”, announced BOP. In early March, Walloon Energy Minister, Paul Furlan, had suggested bringing the development of wind farms off the coast to a halt, claiming to the Le Soir newspaper that “Offshore wind turbines are not financially viable without the substantial government subsidies accorded to them.” Bart Tommelein had replied that he was “so very” wrong, explaining that offshore parks recorded a 20% bigger yield than inland parks and that CREG, the electricity regulator, assesses on an annual basis the subsidies they receive.