Belgian offshore wind power costs fall to €79/MWh as 716MW finalised

The Belgian government reached an agreement on Friday with the developers of three offshore wind farms for a subsidy rate €79/MWh.

The three wind farms, known as Mermaid, Northwester II and Seastar, have combined capacity of 716MW and are due to be built between 2018 and 2020, according to the Belgian energy ministry.

The projects are owned by consortia that involve a number of different companies.

The €79/MWh announced on Friday is far below the €138/MWh agreed last year for four offshore wind farms in the country, which reconfirms the dramatically falling costs for offshore wind projects seen across western Europe over the past 18 months.

The subsidy is a contract-for-difference model, under which the developers will sell their power and receive a top-up payment to the agreed strike price rate.

The strike price was administratively set between the developers of the projects and the energy ministry, with both sides agreeing on a price that represents the levelised cost of generation, which means the cost of power production per MWh spread across the project’s lifetime.

No competitive tender was held for the right to develop the site itself, as is the favoured approach in other western European countries (click here to read story).

The energy ministry said in a statement: “This will significantly reduce the cost of the transition for citizens, provide for a rational future without nuclear energy while ensuring our security of supply.”

The three wind farms are part of a wider development of nine parks to be developed in the Belgian part of the North Sea, providing 2.2GW of capacity.

The wind farms will help Belgium close the gap on its 2020 renewable energy target. In 2015, Belgium had achieved only 7.9% renewables in final energy consumption, 5.1 percentage points away from its binding commitment for 2020.

By Matthew Jones