It may not be the sunniest of nations; but Belgium is currently well ahead of Australia when it comes to PV solar power capacity per capita.
According to Belgian renewable energy association APERe, the country now boasts 2600 MW capacity of installed solar panels – enough to provide 14% of the country’s household consumption or 2.8% of its total 80 TWh annual electricity consumption.
Belgium has a population of just 11 million, yet its total solar power capacity is comparable to that of Australia; which has a population of around 23 million.
Another recent event of note relating to renewable energy in Belgium occurred on January 31 when wind power provided 12% of the country’s electricity consumption. Currently there are 580 operational wind turbines in Belgium, with a collective capacity of 1376 MW.
Belgium also made headlines recently when it announced it was planning to construct a “battery island“; a horseshoe-shaped artificial island with a three kilometre diameter to use as an energy storage facility in conjunction with its offshore wind farms.
Last year, what was at that point the world’s largest offshore wind turbine (6.15MW) was installed 28 kilometres off the port of Oostende in Belgium.
Belgium’s government has set a goal to generate 13% of its energy from sustainable sources by 2020.
According to the CIA Factbook; in 2009, fossil fuel based electricity generation accounted for 46.4% of Belgium’s total installed capacity and nuclear made up 33.7%
Belgium has declared that no new commercial nuclear reactors are to be constructed in the country and that 6 of Belgium’s reactors will be shut down when they reach an operational lifetime of 40 years; which will occur between 2015–2025. The one other reactor in the country will be allowed to continue past the 40 year mark, but even that facility will be shuttered in 2025.
APERe has been promoting development of renewable energy in Belgium since 1991.