EC clears Belgian support for offshore renewables

Illustration/Laminaria WEC under tests in Belgium (Photo: Laminaria)

The European Commission (EC) has concluded that Belgian plans to finance electricity generation from offshore renewable energy are in line with EU state aid rules.

Under the Belgian offshore renewable energy scheme, operators will receive certificates for offshore energy produced from renewable energy sources from the federal energy regulator (CREG).

The operators can then sell these certificates to the transmission system operator Elia at a premium on top of the price they receive for electricity sold on the market.

The support scheme is financed by a surcharge that is finally paid by electricity consumers, according to EC.

In order to avoid any discrimination against foreign renewable energy producers resulting from the financing mechanism, Belgium has committed to partially opening up the scheme from January 1, 2017, to foreign producers of electricity from renewable resources.

In addition to approving the scheme, the EC also approved support to the Rentel and Norther wind farm projects, stating that both the scheme and the projects promote the integration of renewable electricity into the market, in line with the Commission’s 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy.

Belgium has set a target of renewable energy production to 13% of the total consumption by 2020.

Main incentives are aimed at wind energy, both onshore and offshore, biomass, biogas and solar energy, according to Ocean Energy Systems.

In Belgium, renewable energy is a generally a regional matter, with only offshore wind power and hydro-power being governed by national regulations.

The Belgian maritime spatial plan foresees an area for the exploitation for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy in the North Sea, which has been divided into 7 zones for which the Government has given concessions for alternative energy project development.

It includes a concession to temporary trading company Mermaid, that aims to create a hybrid park consisting of 266MW of wind, and 5MW of wave energy rated power, scheduled for completion by 2020, it is stated in Ocean Energy Systems 2015 report.

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