EC Nods to EUR 3.5 Billion Boost for Belgian Offshore Wind Projects

The European Commission has approved under EU State aid rules Belgium’s support of a maximum of EUR 3.5 billion for three offshore wind projects in the Belgian North Sea.

Image for illustrative purposes. Source: MHI Vestas

The Commission has found Belgian plans to support three offshore wind farm projects, the 235MW Mermaid, the 252MW Seastar, which are now bundled into the Seamade project, and the 219MW Northwester 2, to be in line with EU State aid rules. The measure will further EU energy and climate goals without unduly distorting competition in the Single Market, the Commission said.

In December 2016, the Commission approved under EU State aid rules a Belgian offshore renewable energy scheme under which operators 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 to the Mermaid, Seastar and Northwester2 wind farm projects is granted under this scheme.

The Commission found that the aid to the three projects is necessary and has an incentive effect, given that, without public support, the projects would not be financially viable. Based on the information provided by Belgium, the support level is in line with the Guidelines and does not result in overcompensation.

The Seamade project is being developed by Seamade NV, a joint venture between Otary (70%), Electrabel (17.5%), and Eneco Wind Belgium SA (12.5 %). The financial close for the project is expected by the end of 2018. The construction is slated to start in 2019 and the commissioning of the project is scheduled for the end of 2020.

Northwester 2 is being developed by Parkwind and Summit Tailwind Belgium. The wind farm will feature 23 MHI Vestas 9.5MW turbines located in the Belgian Exclusive Economic Zone. The installation of the turbines is scheduled to commence late next year, with full commissioning expected in 2020.