Belgium plans big off-shore solar projects in the North Sea

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“Solar panels on the North Sea? This is possible. Our sea has the potential of becoming a real solar park. We are currently looking at where we can lay the solar panels! The future is renewable energy.”

This statement was made by the Belgian secretary of state for Social fraud, Privacy and the North Sea, Philippe De Baker on his twitter account, while reposting an interview he gave to the Belgian radio channel, Radio 1.

According to De Baker, the first pilot project may be launched in 2020, while larger solar islands could be built immediately after the first installation is finalized.

As these kinds of projects are generally intended for deployment close to existing off-shore wind power facilities, the best location for them would be the coast of Zeebrugge, where several wind power plants are currently operational, De Baker continued. The area would also be suitable for off-shore solar, as shipping is very rare in this area.

In 2020, the Belgium Marine Spatial Plan (Marien Ruimtelijk Plan) will expire. The new plan will include the development of off-shore solar and wind as a barrier for protecting the coast against storms, De Baker went on to say.

The government intends to work with private players to develop the solar islands in the next legislature. However, De Baker said private investors were not available for an immediate commitment, as planned by the government, as the technology was not yet mature enough. “… but that will soon be the case,” the secretary of state stressed.

De Baker also cited the recent floating off-shore solar project announced by a Dutch consortium in the Netherlands, and several other floating PV projects in China, as examples to follow for the North Sea plan.