Wind Directions exclusive: North Sea grid vital, says Belgian minister
Developing a power grid in the North Sea to “compensate for the wind’s variability and allow a true market for North Sea offshore wind” is a task that “decision-makers must urgently take on”, Belgian Energy and Climate Minister Paul Magnette told EWEA’s Wind Directions recently.
The Socialist minister emphasised the huge offshore wind potential of the region, saying that the areas of the Belgian North Sea that have been set aside for wind energy projects “could host a total capacity of 2,000 MW.” Installing those 2,000 MW of capacity would mean Belgium’s total would shoot up more than five-fold from its current level of 384 MW and help it reach its 13% EU 2020 renewable target.
But for such growth to happen, an offshore grid connecting turbines at sea to the land network so the power can be carried to consumers is essential, and the Minister stressed that it must be “a common goal for all countries that have a North Sea coastline.”
Minister Magnette also said that building on the opening of the country’s first wind farm at Thornton Bank earlier in 2009, several other offshore wind farms should be built in the next few years.
“Fairly soon, the Eldepasco and Belwind projects – as well as the second phase of Thornton Bank – will be developed. As for the Rentel project, that’s not due until 2015. In addition, other authorisation requests are being examined by the national regulator, CREG.”
The full interview appears in the latest issue of Wind Directions.
By Sarah Azau