The minister of Energy and the minister for Marine Environment and Marine Spatial Planning determine by a decree deliberated on in the Council of Ministers what is the subject of a domain concession, among other things:
- the location,
- the size,
- the number of parcels.
They do so after having received the CREG’s advice and after having consulted with the system operator Elia.
The results of all preliminary studies and the location of the transmission system’s elements are both also integrated in this decree.
The identification of the parcels is one of the numerous steps for a successful tender.
In view of the identification of the parcels, the following is taken into account:
- the fulfilment of the social functions of the sea, including the importance of a functional space usage of the sea;
- the consequences of an instruction for third parties;
- the environmental importance;
- the costs of executing the installation for the production of electricity in the parcel;
- the importance of the most optimal and cost efficient connection of the production installation on the Modular Offshore Grid.
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.
Name of the parcel
Princess Elisabeth I
Princess Elisabeth II
Princess Elisabeth III
The division below can still be adjusted slightly on the basis of additional information and progressive insight.
The Shapefiles of the three parcels can be downloaded below:
- Zone 1 is the Eastern Zone. Several wind farms have already been built in this zone.
- Zone 2, 3 and 4 make up the Princess Elisabeth-zone (PEZ). As from 2024, these zones will be subject to a tender to construct wind farms here as well.
The MSP also determines the social functions around the PEZ. The generating of renewable energy presents social and economic advantages. In this way, it attracts investments and generates employment. Furthermore, the lower presence of other human activities has a positive effect on the marine environment. The access to the parcels is limited to ships of the concessionaires and ships in the service of the government and Defence.
However, an environmental impact assessment (EIA) will include all factors that affect the marine environment. On the basis of this EIA, an environmental permit will be applied for.
The consequences of a division of parcels for third parties
As the MSP already determines the external borders of the Princess Elisabeth Zone, an internal zoning will have little to no impact on the users around the zone. The division of the parcels precedes the tender, for which this division is primordial. Without this division into parcels the tender cannot take place. A division is necessary to stimulate competition.
Even though the division into parcels in itself has no direct impact on third parties, this may well be the case with phased commissioning. For the division into parcels, it is possible to take the following into account during the planning in phases:
- the protection of pleasure shipping lanes to the United Kingdom;
- the protection of sand extraction that currently takes place in Zone 2 (Noordhinder North);
- avoiding straining the course of navigation between Zone 2 and Zone 3 (Noordhinder South) by the installation vessels by granting the most northern parcels first;
- coordinating the granting of the parcels with the development of the transmission network infrastructure;
- the most actual knowledge for limiting the environmental impact in the most sensitive areas;
- the impact of wake effects (minimal distances between wind turbines) and the optimal coordination between the implantation of the turbines and the dominant wind directions.
The environmental importance
The legislation requires an environmental permit to construct wind turbines in the Belgian part of the North Sea. This permit can only be granted after preparing an environmental impact assessment.
Furthermore, projects in Natura2000 areas require a Natura 2000 allowance. The allowance is based on an appropriate assessment in accordance with the royal decree of 27 October 2016 on the procedure for the designation and management of marine protected areas.
The appropriate assessment examines whether or not a project will have significant effects on the conservation objectives for the protected areas, the species that are present and the habitats.
Each Natura 2000 allowance that is granted by the minister competent for the North Sea can only be granted after a thorough analysis of the possible effects mentioned in the appropriate assessment. If necessary, the minister can include additional conditions and/or compensatory measures in the allowance ensuring the preservation of the quality of the Natura 2000 network. If the appropriate assessment identifies significant negative impacts, the project cannot be executed.
The aim is to develop a sustainable energy production by means of wind turbines, with regard for the protected areas and biodiversity.
In order to achieve these objectives with regard to the protected areas, the minister has identified gaps in the scientific knowledge in consultation with the Department for the Marine Environment (Federal Public Service Health), the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences - Directorate Natural Environment (RBINS-OD Nature), a few NGOs (4Sea), and the Belgian Offshore Platform (BOP). It was decided to finance an extensive scientific study over several years (2019-2023).
This research, EDEN2000 - “Exploring options for a nature-proof Development of offshore wind farms inside a Natura 2000 area”, is followed up by a steering committee consisting of the minister, the Department for the Marine Environment and the RBINS-OD Nature. The RBINS-OD Nature is responsible for realizing EDEN2000 and will provide the final report in the first quarter of 2023.
The data and information from this scientific research are included in the tender conditions of the public tender procedures for the construction of wind turbines under the responsibility of the GM Energy of the FPS Economy.
The costs of implementing the facility for the production of electricity on the parcel
The division of parcels must take into account:
- the connectability,
- the avoidance of long cable distances,
- minimal distances between wind turbines(wake effects)…
The importance of the most optimal and cost-efficient connection of the production facility on the Modular Offshore Grid (MOG)
On 15 October 2021, the Council of Ministers approved the target of the production capacity to a minimum of 3,15 GW and a maximum of 3,5 GW in the Princess Elisabeth Zone and validated the principle of the connection of this energy through an energy island. The Council of Ministers has asked the grid operator to develop the details for connecting the Princess Elisabeth Zone and to submit them for approval by the Council of Ministers.
A central location allows for connecting all inter array cables to a single point and for transforming the voltage here into a higher voltage. To this end, it is necessary that each concession borders the MOG. For this reason, additional cable zones are defined where necessary to make sure that the connection of the large number of inter array cables can be carried out properly.