Wind Farms

Environmental Permit

The Marine Spatial Plan marks out an offshore zone for wind turbines. To set up a wind farm or any other special activity at sea, a project must first obtain a Belgian concession, together with all the relevant permits.

In other words, any such project will need to go through a process in order to obtain an environmental permit. The applicant submits an environmental impact report (EIR) to our scientific department, the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models and the Scheldt estuary (MUMM). MUMM then carries out an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA). The matter is also put to the public: a round of public consultations is held over a 45-day period in Belgium, and where the potential exists for cross-border effects consultations are held with the country in question.

Having considered this EIA and the results of the public consultation process, MUMM advises the federal minister for the Marine Environment. These recommendations relate to the project's acceptability for the marine environment and to any conditions that might be applied to make the project acceptable. The minister then decides whether or not to issue an environmental permit. The process takes about 6 to 8 months, from application to final ministerial decision, depending on the complexity of the case.

In addition to the procedure involved in obtaining the environmental permit there is a process which grants domain concessions for a given area. Applications are submitted to the CREG (Electricity and Gas Regulation Commission), which passes its recommendation to the Minister for Energy. A domain concession can be granted before the environmental permit, but will remain invalid until the environmental permit is formally issued. Finally, there is a cable laying procedure to be followed. Applications are submitted to the FPS for Economic Affairs, which passes its recommendations to the Minister for Energy.

Wind Farms in Belgium

The first wind turbines in Belgian coastal waters were installed in 2009. Once all of the planned wind farms are operational there will be about 500 wind turbines along the Belgian coast.

The 54 wind turbines of the C-Power farm are located on Thornton Bank, 27 kilometres off the coast of Zeebrugge, where the depth of the sea varies between 10 and 25 metres. The farm covers an area of 18 km² and has a total capacity of 300 MW.

The 55 wind turbines of the Belwind farm are located on Bligh Bank, 46 kilometres off the coast of Zeebrugge. This farm is the furthest from the coast in the world. The depth of the sea varies between 25 and 50 metres. The farm covers an area of 35 km² and will have a total capacity of 330 MW on completion of the 2nd phase (Nobelwind, a total of 110 wind turbines). It will generate enough electricity to power 330,000 homes.

The Northwind farm lies 38 kilometres off the coast of Zeebrugge on Lodewijk Bank. The depth of the sea varies from 16 to 38 metres. The farm has 72 wind turbines. It covers an area of 35 km² and has a total capacity of 216 MW.

The public limited companies Norther, Rentel, Mermaid, Northwester 2 and Seastar are already authorised and licensed to build and operate wind farms. The zone set aside for wind turbines will be fully utilised once these farms are operational.

For more information, please visit our specialised website of the Scientific Service Management Unit of the Mathematical Model of the North Sea

C-Power monitoring - Alain Norro

There is an obvious need to study how these wind turbines affect the marine ecosystem. In fact, a monitoring programme conducted by OD Natural Environment has been built into the environmental permit. In 2013 a symposium was organised. It involved 150 scientists and policymakers meeting in Brussels to discuss the first six years of Belgian offshore wind farm monitoring.

Offshore Grid

The Marine Spatial Plan also sets out a zone for the allocation of a domain concession for the construction and exploitation of a Belgian Offshore Grid (BOG). Once the wind farms have been built this will be used to bring the electricity produced to shore. The same power point might  in the future belong to the North Sea Offshore Grid, a network of electricity generators between the countries bordering the North Sea.

Go to top