Offshore wind

We analyse the possibility to acquire additional access to large offshore wind zones in the North Sea as of 2030. We investigate the impacts of adding 16GW and 32GW of offshore wind power by 2050, on top of the 8 GW in Belgian territorial zone. It is equivalent to adding respectively 800 MW and 1600 MW every year between 2030 and 2050.

Key takeaways
  • Additional access to offshore wind is particularly interesting: it can bring down the energy system costs, and it allows demand sectors to benefit from the additional electricity production. Especially the industry and transport sectors will face a large increase of electricity demand in the medium-term for electrifying their processes and vehicle fleet, including trucks.
  • There is only a limited timespan to push the development of wind offshore technologies. Indeed, for this phenomenon to materialise, the low carbon electricity production, including all renewables and nuclear or other base load type of resources, should increase from currently around 65 TWh to 85 by 2030 and 150 TWh by 2040. Even more, the electricity production from renewable resources should increase from currently 22 TWh to 70 TWh by 2030 and 150 TWh by 2040. This is a factor 3 and a factor 7 ! Only scenarios with access to additional offshore wind zones can make this happen.
  • The first +16 GW is rendering it much cheaper. Going beyond that, the cost is not reduced that much.
  • In the situation without new nuclear, the additional offshore wind power mainly replaces solar PV. In the situation where new nuclear (SMR) is allowed, it replaces both solar PV and nuclear.
  • With 40 GW of wind offshore capacity, the modelling results do not include investments in new nuclear (SMR).
  • In all situations, the additional offshore wind power reduces (other) electricity imports as well as hydrogen-based electricity generation.
  • For a cost comparison, see the graph in our “Key conclusions”.

In the situation without new nuclear

Compared to the Central scenario, hydrogen-based electricity generation goes down from 14 to 0.7 TWh. Electricity imports reduce from 32 TWh in the Central scenario, to 15 TWh if 16 GW offshore wind is added and to 6 TWh if 32 GW is added.

Starting from the 8 GW in the central scenario, offshore wind capacity reaches 24 GW (8 + 16) and 40 GW (8 + 32) in the sensitivity runs. Adding more offshore wind power reduces mostly solar PV capacity and -linked to that- hydrogen-based capacity.

In the situation where new nuclear (SMR) is allowed

In the situation where new nuclear (SMR) is allowed, wind offshore replaces both solar PV and nuclear.

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