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ENERGY

Europe is the world leader in offshore wind energy, with 4,149 turbines installed and connected to the electricity grid in 2017, representing a total capacity of 15,780 MW spread over 11 different countries (WindEurope). This share will only increase in the future, as Europe will continue to invest heavily in offshore wind energy as part of its 'Blue Growth Strategy' (DG-MARE).

In Belgium, four wind farms (C-Power, Belwind, Nobelwind and Northwind) were already operational in 2017, representing a total of almost 500 wind turbines and a capacity of 877.2 MW (OD Natural environment, RBINS; BOP). Five more wind farms will be operational by 2020: Rentel (2018), Norther (2019), Seastar (2020), Mermaid (2020) and Northwester2 (2020), representing a total production of more than 2,200 MW (approximately 10% of Belgian energy consumption). All these wind farms are located in an area of 238 km² on the eastern border of the Belgian part of the North Sea (BNS). In the latest draft of the Marine Spatial Plan (2020-2026), which was approved by the Federal Council of Ministers on 20 April 2018, there are plans for new post-2020 wind farms in an area of 221 km² at about 35-40 km off the coast of de Panne. Once operational, these wind farms could generate another 2,000 MW of wind energy. Energy production by means of currents, tides and waves in the BNS is for the time being limited to pilot projects.

To cope with this green energy transition, measures are being taken both on land and at sea to strengthen the transmission grid. For example, a Modular Offshore Grid (MOG) is being developed, or a "socket at sea", to which the last four wind farms will be connected in order to allow coordinated transport of electricity to the mainland and to limit the amount of transmission cables (Elia). This MOG will connect on land with the Stevin project, which in turn has a connection to the NEMO-link. The latter concerns a bi-directional DC power cable between Great Britain and Belgium to enable power exchange.

In addition to the power cables, there are three other natural gas pipelines in the North Sea, over a total length of 163 km. Two of these (the Zeepipe and Interconnector pipeline) are connected to the port of Zeebrugge (Fluxys). Finally, on the Belgian Continental Shelf (BCS), there are 16 telecommunication cables with a total length of 914 km.

More info on www.compendiumkustenzee.be

Information
Marine Spatial Planning
Offshore wind farms
Cables and pipelines