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As from 2019 a production capacity of about 1,6 GW of wind turbines will generate electricity in the Belgian North Sea, and about 2,3 GW by 2020. With the Marine spatial planning 2020-2026, Philippe De Backer the Belgian minister competent for the North Sea has established the framework for an additional wind zone of 281 km² (at the frontier with France), in addition to the wind zone of 225 km² which already exists (at the frontier with the Netherlands).
When the government approved the reduced level of support for the three last wind farms to be built by 2020, ministers De Backer and Marghem also decided to organise as from 2020 a competitive bidding procedure for the realisation of new renewable energy projects in the North Sea, such as it is also the case in the neighbouring countries and in accordance with the European state aid rules.
For that purpose, the Belgian Parliament has adopted a law on 4 April 2019 (ratified by the King on 12 May 2019) which establishes the general principles of the competitive bidding procedure. With this new legal framework Belgium aims at achieving the commitments at European level and within the framework of the Paris Agreement on Climate. This legal framework should enable the federal government to realise the proposed 4GW of offshore wind energy (inclusive the already operational or planned wind farms) in the interfederal Energy Plan by 2030 at the latest. In addition, the new law also aims at realising after 2020 the largest possible share of additional offshore electricity production capacity from renewable energy sources at the lowest possible societal cost.
The law aims at considerably reducing the cost of support to the development of a future offshore electricity production by:
- organising competitive bidding procedures;
- putting larger plots on the market and;
- organising preliminary studies paid by the administration, of which the results are made available to potential bidders.
The winning bidder to whom a domain concession will be granted, will be entitled to use the plots concerned for the construction and the private operation of offshore electricity production installations, and will automatically, immediately and simultaneously obtain all other the permits needed.
By choosing a competitive bidding procedure as a basis for the granting of domain concessions, the following four objectives were established to be realized by 2030 (see the explanatory memorandum of the law draft on the competitive bidding procedure):
- additional renewable energy capacity (at least 1,75 GW);
- a maximum of energy delivered to the grid (in GWh);
- a minimum (direct or indirect) cost for the consumer;
- supporting services to the energy grid (balancing, storage, etc.).
Perspective of the competitive bidding procedure
After the phase of the preliminary studies to be realised by the authorities (and the transmission aspects by the transmission system operator), a Ministerial Decree will define the location, the size and the number of plots which will be subject to a competitive bidding procedure (the main conclusions of those preliminary studies will in principle be published in the Annex of this Decree).
At the latest prior to finalizing the realisation of the preliminary studies, a Royal Decree will define the conditions and the criteria as regards the admissibility and the awarding of the tender.