The European Commission has approved a decision to support a maximum of €3.5 billion to three Belgian offshore windfarms. The decision has been made under EU state aid rules and the Belgium offshore renewable energy scheme.
Located in Belgian territorial waters of the North Sea; Mermaid (235 megawatt), Seastar (252 megawatt) and Northwester2 (219 megawatt) were submitted to the Commission for support in August 2018. The three Belgian offshore windfarms are a step forward in developing renewable energy sources.
Belgium has a target to produce 13% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020 and the €3.5bn support complements the Commissions Energy Union Strategy to deliver secure, sustainable and competitive energy in Europe and to meet Paris Agreement Commitments.
The state aid guidelines and rules on public support for environmental protection and energy
Released in April 2014, the guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy are in place to ensure that Europe meets its ambitious energy and climate targets whilst minimising market distortions that may result from subsidies granted to renewable energy sources. The guidelines for the Belgian offshore windfarms are in place to promote a gradual move to market-based support for renewable energy.
The Commission has assessed the plans laid out by Belgium under the guidelines on state aid for environmental protection and energy and approved support of the projects. It was concluded that the projects will increase the share of electricity produced from renewable sources in Belgium and reduce pollution, while limiting any distortions of competition caused by the state.
The Commission has also based their decision to support the projects after concluding that aid to the three projects is necessary and has an incentive effect as it is believed that without public support, the projects would not be financially viable and therefore based on the information provided by Belgium the Commission have decided to back the projects and support the three offshore windfarms.