Despite the country’s narrow stretch of coast, offshore wind last year already met 6% of Belgium’s power needs, one of the highest shares in the world next to that in Denmark and the UK, investor group the Belgian Offshore Platform said.

The country’s offshore wind penetration rose in 2019 as the combined capacity of its North Sea wind parks rose by almost a third to 1.56GW.

Another two offshore wind farms – the 219MW Northwester II and the 487MW Seamade complex - are slated to be grid connected this year, which will bring the country’s cumulated capacity for wind at sea to 2.26GW.

That will fill up Belgium’s first offshore wind development zone, though, which is located at the sea border with the Netherlands.

Belgium has designated three further offshore wind zones further to the west in its exclusive economic zone in the North Sea (Noorhinder North, Noordhinder South and Fairybank), but the Offshore Platform doesn’t expect the start of construction of a new cluster before 2026.

“The offshore wind industry in the past years has made enormous efforts to build out wind farms at sea faster and cheaper,” said Annemie Vermeylen, general secretary at the Belgian Offshore Platform.

“Therefore it is desirable and necessary that the development of energy infrastructure will switch to a higher gear, so that a further expansion of large CO2-neutral energy can be realized faster in coming years.”

The government in its 2020-2026 marine zoning plan has earmarked another 2GW in possible offshore wind capacity in the western zones, but doesn’t foresee any offshore wind tenders before late 2023.

The country's North Sea coastline is only about 67 kilometres long.