April 20, 2018 / 12:30 PM / 3 months ago

Belgium to double offshore wind energy capacity as it exits nuclear power

BRUSSELS (Reuters) - Belgium will double the area of its North Sea waters made available to offshore wind parks after 2020, the government announced on Friday, as part of its exit strategy from nuclear power.

The country has four offshore wind parks that produce 871 megawatts of power and wants to increase that capacity to 2.2 gigawatts by 2020 and to 4 gigawatts by 2030.

After 2020, the government plans to designate a new, 221-square-kilometre (85 square miles) area near French waters.

“Our North Sea is a crucial partner in the energy transition towards renewable energy which is happening in our country,” Belgian state secretary for the North Sea, Philippe De Backer, said in a statement.

Belgium’s two nuclear power plants, at Doel and Tihange with a total capacity of 6 gigawatts, have experienced a series of technical problems at reactors and are earmarked for closure by 2025.

With the costs of building and running offshore wind farms coming down in other European countries, De Backer said he believed future wind projects would not require any state subsidies.

Reporting by Robert-Jan Bartunek; editing by Philip Blenkinsop and Susan Fenton

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