Flemish community energy incentive in the works

Belgium‘s Flanders region could soon see an incentive introduced to support community solar and wind power projects.

Bart Tommelein, the Flemish energy minister, told local newspaper Gazet van Antwerpen on Saturday that he aims to discuss such a measure with Flemish and Belgian government colleagues.

Tommelein said the incentive would be granted only for a short time and would not be a large amount of money as solar and wind power systems can be profitable without subsidies, and “people will realize after a while that these kinds of projects of course offer a high return”. à‚ 

Those who “invest in a windmill or solar panel project easily achieve a return of 5 to 6 per cent per annum,” he said. “That’s at least five times as much” as putting money into a savings account.

He said the measure is aimed at supporting community investment in, for example, rooftop solar on local schools and supermarkets. Residential systems would not be supported as they are already “of course profitable enough”. à‚ 

According to statistics from the energy ministry and local renewables association Apere, Flanders installed 103 MW of solar power in 2016, with the bulk of the new capacity being residential and commercial systems. à‚ 

Tommelein has said he aims to see 6.4 million more solar panels installed in Flanders by 2020. Earlier this month he was photographed connecting the final PV panel of a 2.2 MW rooftop array atop a Nike distribution centre.

At the time, he said big companies “are ideally suited for laying large solar panel installations on their roofs. Let’s hope that this good example inspires other companies.”à‚ 

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