With the installation of the Northwester 2 array in May, tiny Belgium has become the world’s fourth-largest producer of wind at sea, being outranked only by offshore wind super-powers the UK, Germany and China, the Belgian Offshore Platform (BOP) said.
The country that has a population of a mere 11m, and a coastline that is only about 67 kilometres long, so far has managed to build 1.77GW of offshore wind – overtaking pioneer Denmark that has so far built 1.70GW, and its neighbour, the Netherlands, which have a cumulated capacity of 1.13GW.
If measured in offshore wind kilowatt installed per capita, Belgium even ranks third, at 0.156 Kw/inhabitant. That compares to Denmark’s 0.296kW/inhabitant and the UK’s 0.158kW/capita.
At the end of this year, when the largest wind farm in the Belgian part of the North Sea – SeaMade - will be fully operational, the country’s installed capacity will reach 2.26GW, enough to power 2.2m homes and meet about 10% of power demand.
With DEME, Belgium also is home to one of the world's largest offshore wind contractors that has been expanding to Asia recently.
After 2020, offshore wind energy capacity in the Belgian North Sea can be further developed to 4 to 4.5 GW, BOP said.
Belgium has designated three additional 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 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.