Table of Contents
Extra capacity offshore wind energy
Since 2020, a total capacity of 2261 MW of offshore wind energy is operational in the Belgian part of the North Sea.
The federal government decided to increase the capacity of offshore wind energy in 2021. The objective is to realize an additional production of a minimum of 3.15 and a maximum of 3.5 GW in the Princess Elisabeth Zone (PEZ). This objective makes it possible to realize the 5.4 to 5.8 GW of offshore wind energy assumed in the coalition agreement by 2030 at the latest. The minister competent for Energy, Tinne Van der Straeten, and the minister competent for the North Sea, Vincent van Quickenborne, are working together to this end.
The federal government aims at realising the largest possible share of additional offshore renewable electricity production at the lowest possible social cost. The costs for the development of the additional capacity are substantially reduced by, among other things:
- organising a competitive bidding procedure (tender)
- putting larger parcels on the market ;
- preliminary studies carried out by the GM Energy.
In order to allocate the construction and the operation of additional offshore facilities, the federal government will organise a competitive bidding procedure (tender), as is the case in the neighbouring countries. The tender will run in conformity with the law of 12 May 2019 and in accordance with the European state aid rules. The general principles of the tender are established in this law.
In addition, Belgium intends to observe the commitments on a European level and under the terms of the Paris Climate Agreement by means of this new legal framework.
The winning bidder receives the permission and the necessary permits for the construction and operation of the offshore installations for the production of electricity based on renewable energy sources.
Division into parcels of the Princess Elisabeth Zone (PEZ)
In the Marine Spatial Plan (MSP) for 2020-2026, an additional area in the Belgian North Sea of 285 km² (at the border with France) is reserved for the construction and the exploitation of installations for the production of electricity from renewable energy sources, and this on top of the existing area of 225 km² of the first (eastern) wind farm zone. This area, the Princess Elisabeth Zone, covers a surface area of 285 km² and covers three zones: Noordhinder North (Zone 2), Noordhinder South (Zone 3) and Fairybank (Zone 4).
The location, the size and the number of parcels that will be the subject of a tender will be determined by a Ministerial Decree. The main conclusions of the preliminary studies will be published in the Annex of this Decree.
The federal government reached an agreement in principle on the parcelling of the PEZ in September 2022. This agreement in principle proposes a division of the PEZ into three parcels with a corresponding maximum installed capacity of 700 MW, 1225-1400 MW, and 1225-1400 MW.
Preliminary studies tender
Preceding the offshore tender, the necessary preliminary studies are carried out. By means of desktop study and fieldwork, all the required information concerning the environmental conditions in the PEZ will be collected. This includes, among other things, the seabed surface, the geological subsoil, the presence of objects and the meteorological conditions.
After finalizing the preliminary studies, the results will be made available to the candidate-bidders. By offering all necessary information, the risk and the related costs for the candidate-bidder are substantially diminished.
Offshore tender and future wind farms in the Belgian North Sea
For the organisation of an offshore tender and the installation of future wind farms, special attention must be drawn to the following points:
- strengthening the connection to the electricity network and the transmission network;
- drawing up an indicative planning for the first new offshore equipment;
- taking action in function of the organisation of the offshore tender.
Connection of future wind farms
Elia, the Belgian transmission system operator, will provide an extension of the Modular Offshore Grid to connect future wind farms to the electricity network.
In addition, Elia is also responsible for reinforcing the transmission system on the mainland (Ventilus and Boucle du Hainaut projects).
Indicative planning for the first wind farm
The publication of the “first” tender is scheduled for 2024, so as to commission the first new offshore installations for the production of electricity from 2029 onwards.
To this end, the preliminary studies are being carried out to be completed in 2024. At the same time, it is intended to promulgate and to publish the RD on the procedure and criteria of the tender in the Belgian law gazette in 2024 at the latest.
The deadline for the commissioning of the first wind farm depends in particular on the necessary permits for the necessary reinforcement of the onshore network, the Ventilus project and the Boucle du Hainaut project.
It is essential for the implementation of these two projects that are necessary for the reinforcement of the offshore capacity for renewable energy that the permit schedules for these two projects are clear and certain. The dates of completion of these two projects are namely two essential parameters for candidate-bidders in the preparation of their offer. These two dates are decisive for the commissioning of the offshore transmission facilities (extension of the Modular offshore Grid) and for the injection of electricity produced offshore into the onshore network.
A considerable delay in the permit schedules for these projects will therefore have a negative effect on the schedule for the development of extra capacity for offshore renewable energy.
Based on the implementation of the law of 12 May 2019 and the organisation of the offshore tender, the federal government undertakes the following actions:
- The development of a regulatory framework in accordance with the law of 12 May 2019 with a view to, among other things:
- the identification and the conditions for the use of the parcels;
- the laying down of the location of the transmission system elements for the extension of the Modular Offshore Grid based on the grid design of the system operator and the advice of the regulator;
- determining the course of the tender procedure;
- the fixing of the latest date on which every part of the extension of the Modular Offshore Grid has to be put into use;
- establishing a compensation scheme for the benefit of the concerned domain concession holders, in the event of the extension of the Modular Offshore Grid not being put into use completely or partly on the fixed date, or in the event of the Modular Offshore Grid being completely or partially unavailable after being put into operation;
- determining the conditions and the procedure for the granting of the different permits
Summary of tender principles
for the Princess Elisabeth Zone (PDF, 263.89 KB).
- The state aid notification to the European Commission, if such an aid scheme were to be provided. This aid scheme is based on the European state aid rules of the grant scheme.
- The carrying out of the different preliminary studies.
- The carrying out of environmental studies to assess, among other things, the impact of future wind farms on the Natura 2000 zone.
- The reinforcement of the transmission network on land.
- The fixing of the date on which the Modular Offshore Grid has to be commissioned at the latest in order to enable the connection of new wind farms.
The DG Energy organises a stakeholder conference on a regular basis in order to update all stakeholders concerned on the state of preparation and organisation of the tender and the preliminary studies.
A stakeholder conference took place on 5 and 26 May 2023 and an information event for industry on 5 July 2023.
For specific questions regarding the development of the PEZ, please contact the Offshore Cell of the DG Energy at the following e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org.