80 new Flemish wind turbines set new record: can Flanders do it?

80 new wind turbines were erected in Flanders over the past year. This is not a record in itself, but the amount of sustainable energy they are generating is. This is because the new wind turbines are becoming more efficient and powerful each time. "Flanders will be able to meet the 2030 climate goals", Bart Bode of the Flemish Wind Turbine Association (VWEA) says.

This year's 80 new wind turbines have a total capacity of 226 megawatt. But while 2015 even saw 5 new wind turbines more (85 in total), these had a capacity of (only) 205 megawatt. "The potential per wind turbine is increasing each time. This means we don't need to build as many as in the past to boost energy supplies in the same manner", says VWEA director.

The last remark is an important one, since Flanders is very densely populated and space for wind farms is relatively scarce. Combined with the NIMBY syndrome, this means that getting new wind farms built on land is not easy.

Can Flanders do it?

Like other European countries, Belgium and Flanders gave set strict goals on sustainable energy by 2030 and 2050, but is not sure whether these can be met. The latest developments might help. "If we continue each year like this year, we can meet the goals of Mr Tommelein (the Flemish Energy Minister, red.) Especially when I see what's in the pipeline for next year."

The Flemish government has put forward a goal of 280 extra wind turbines by the end of 2020. The extra electricity generated by this year's new windmills, equals about half the capacity of Belgium's oldest nuclear reactor Doel 1 (or Doel 2). This plant should be closed by 2025.

East Flanders and Antwerp

East Flanders and Antwerp province account for the biggest share of new wind turbines this year, each with 34 mills. Most of these were built in and around port areas. West Flanders stayed behind with no new constructions. Opportunities are often hampered or delayed by local airports in Koksijde and Ostend. Things are looking brighter for Zeebrugge though, says Bode.

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