Last weekend I stayed in Ostend, a Belgian coastal city. Just a relaxing weekend at the coast. First thing on my list was a visit to the Tourist Office for some touristic information. Paint my surprise when I found a brochure of the Belgian Offshore Platform (BOP) tittled “Offshore wind – A useful necessity”, right between the touristic fliers.
Inside the flier, the usual thoughtless and often repeated talk like “fight against climate change”, “security of supply” (really?!?!), “leading position”,… There also were some general figures about the 8 Belgian wind farms by 2020. Some of the figures:
€8 billion for development and construction
When I first read this, I thought: “8 billion euro, that is much less than I expected”. But looking at it more carefully, I realized that this is the investment cost of the companies, not the cost to society. The cost to society includes things like:
- Subsidies: CREG calculated for (the then) 7 farms 15.6 billion subsidies. For 8 farms that will probably a couple billions more. That is more than double what is presented
- Cost for connecting the wind mills to the grid on main land. This is not cheap because of the distance from the coast, an additional 800,000 euro.
- the cost of backup power or balancing
Next is capacity:
2,200 MW of which, at the beginning of 2014, 712 MW is already operational
That is only a capacity similar to that of two nuclear plants. For around 20 billion euro and then it is not even producing electricity in a continuous way.
Total of avoided CO2 emissions
Probably without taking into account the backup needed when the wind doesn’t blow (much) or blows too much.
Total annual production
8 TWh = 10% of the total consumption of electricity in Belgium or equals 50% of the total annual domestic consumption of electricity.
10% of the total electricity consumption in Belgium for 2020, that is something I don’t really believe. The 712 MW at the beginning of 2014 was good for less than 2%. So for three times more, 10% would probably be somewhat optimistic.
By the way, that 8 TWh is the average production. There is no guarantee that much energy is produced when consumption is high or less energy is produced when there is less need for it.
Concluding, it seems once again that nothing is said about the very nature of wind energy and its consequences. What is it with alternative energy communication that one side is being hidden?