Country Reports

Since Belgium only has a moderate wave and tidal climate, the ocean energy activities are mainly focused on Research & Development rather than deploying commercial ocean energy systems.

However, because of the mild climate, the Belgian offshore zones can function as a testing platform for smaller scale prototypes. In the past, projects like FlanSea and Laminaria have tested device prototypes at the Harbour of Ostend. In 2016, no new test campaigns were performed, but there is an interest to extend the existing site with more infrastructures to be compatible with more device types for wave and tidal energy.


SUPPORTING POLICIES FOR OCEAN ENERGY


NATIONAL STRATEGY
Belgium has to increase its share of renewable energy production to 13% of the total consumption by 2020. This share has been growing steadily in the last year. Main incentives aim at wind energy (onshore and offshore), biomass, biogas and solar energy. The offshore wind energy concessions in the Belgian North Sea will have the biggest impact on renewables, leading up to a total of ± 2200 MW of offshore wind power installed by 2020.


REGULATORY FRAMEWORK
A green energy certificate market is implemented to support renewable energy production with Tradable Green Certificates (TGC). For each renewable technology, a stakeholder analysis is put forward to determine the level of support. A generic business case is constructed with input of the developer, the technology supplier, investors and banks. This exercise will determine the cost of the renewable electricity and the matching value of the TGC in €/MWh. The business case is frequently updated in order to align the new TGC support with the technology evolution.


MARKET INCENTIVES
The Belgian maritime spatial plan foresees an area for the exploitation for offshore wind, wave and tidal energy. Thisv area has been divided into 7 zones for which the Government has given concessions for alternative energy project development. The last concession (±55 km from the coast) was granted in July 2012 to the temporary trading company Mermaid. This Mermaid concession zone aims at the installation of 232 to 266 MW wind and 5 to 61 MW wave energy (rated power). This hybrid park has a water depth of 35-40 m and an average wave climate of 6.5 kW/m. The project is planned to be finished by 2020.


KEY R&D INSTITUTIONS AND RELEVANT R&D PROJECTS

The FlanSea project (2010-2013) aimed at designing and developing a wave energy converter for low to moderate wave energy in the Belgian part of the North Sea (and other moderate wave zones).

The project partners were DEME blue energy, Cloostermans, Harbour of Ostend, Electrawinds, Spiromatic, Contec and 4 research groups from the University of Ghent. The project has been partly funded by IWT (Flemish Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology).

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FlanSea device at sea (Flanders Electricity from the sea, www.flansea.eu)

The FlanSea prototype device of 4.4m diameter, 5m height and 25 tonnes weight was commissioned FlanSea device at sea outside the Harbour of Ostend in July 2013. It has to be considered as a scale model at scale ½. The sea test ended in December 2013. Results have been analysed within PhD scholarships and master theses. The plans and intentions for FlanSea II are currently under development.

 

The Laminaria technology could be classified as a surge operated point absorber. The device consists of a cross shaped buoy tethered to the seabed. The horizontal translation and tilting motion of the hull is transferred through the mooring lines to the Power Take-Off. The unique selling point of the technology is its active storm protection system. Through the use of the storm protection strategy the device can survive any storm with energy production at nominal power. The device achieves this by regulating its exposure to the passing wave energy. In normal operations the device sits in the water with its top near the surface. When wave power exceeds the level necessary to produce nominal power the device submerges. The device finds the ideal height in the water column where there is still enough motion in the water to produce nominal power but without undergoing the excessive motion near the water surface.

This results in a very effective way of regulating energy input into the device. As a result of the storm protection strategy the device can be optimized to produce optimal in smaller more common waves. This not only results in a lighter, cheaper and more effective device, it also results in a very high capacity factor.

Over the last year a fully functional ¼ scale prototype has been tested at the sea testing site in Ostend, Belgium. The sea trials have shown the storm protection strategy to be very effective. The device was designed to deliver nominal power of 1kW at 0.5m waves.

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Laminaria device at the dock (http://www.laminaria.be/)

Even though it survived stormy conditions with waves up to 2.7m that have an energy content of 46 times the waves needed to produce nominal power. Due to the storm protection strategy strains and forces on the device and moorings were limited to the level comparable with 0.5m waves. During the sea trials a wave to mechanical efficiency of up to 81% was achieved.

In 2015, a new research project into a novel PTO type started. Cofely Fabricom and Ghent University partnered up and managed to obtain national and international (HIE-WES) funding. Their concept focuses on delivering high power quality, by transforming the oscillatory wave motions into a steady, one-directional rotation of the generator axis. The project consists of a detailed numerical study and the construction of a laboratory test set-up. In 2016, the project was finished successfully and the technology proved to be promising. Further funding will be requested to test the technology at a larger scale.

 

TEST SITES
A test facility was implemented at approximately 1 km from the Harbour of Ostend. The test facility has easy access for deployment and maintenance from the Harbour of Ostend. Wave riders register the available wave climate, an antenna and camera onshore ensure the data connection and visualisations. Navigation buoys protect the test zone from unwanted marine traffic. There is no grid connection installed. There is an interest in installing a monopile structure at the test site, as a monitoring hub and foundation basis for several renewable energy projects.


PLANNED DEPLOYMENTS
Depending on the results of the FlanSea I project, a possible continuation is under investigation. In this FlanSea II project the emphasis is on the development, which involves deployment of one or multiple wave energy convertors of bigger scale and/or alternative for the Power Take-Off.

Laminaria is planning a deployment at the EMEC test site in Orkney, Scotland, in 2017 (LAMWEC project). The aim is to create a win-win situation by supplying the Scottish grid with clean reliable energy and creating employment in Flanders in the development and construction of the devices.