Europe OK with Belgian support for offshore renewable energy
The measure will further EU energy and climate goals whilst maintaining competition in the Single Market.
The Commission has also approved support to the Rentel and Norther windfarm projects.
The Commission found that the scheme and the two individual projects promote the integration of renewable electricity into the market, in line with the Commission's 2014 Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection and Energy.
The Commission concluded that the scheme and the two projects will increase the proportion of green electricity and reduce pollution, while limiting distortions of competition due to the state support.
They will help Belgium to meet its 2020 target of producing 13% of its energy needs from renewable sources.
Under the scheme, operators will receive certificates for offshore energy produced from renewable energy sources from the federal energy regulator (CREG).
The operators can then sell these certificates to the transmission system operator Elia at a premium on top of the price they receive for electricity sold on the market.
The support scheme is financed by a surcharge that is finally paid by electricity consumers.
In order to avoid any discrimination against foreign renewable energy producers resulting from the financing mechanism, Belgium has committed to partially opening up the scheme, as from 1 January 2017, to foreign producers of electricity from renewable resources. ■