Belgium’s first subsidy-free wind farm inaugurated at ArcelorMittal in Ghent
On the terrains of steel manufacturer ArcelorMittal in Gent, Belgium’s first subsidy-free wind farm was inaugurated on Tuesday morning. Flemish Budget minister Matthias Diependaele and East-Flemish provincial governor Carina Van Cauter attended the inauguration.
The wind farm consists of three new wind turbines, each with a capacity of 6 megawatts. ArcelorMittal Belgium will use the power for electrifying its steel manufacturing processes, as well as 200 car charging stations for its staff. CEO of ArcelorMittal Belgium Manfred Van Vlierberghe explained during the inauguration how the project was made possible without government support: “We have committed ourselves to buying all the power from the subsidy-free wind turbines at a fixed price over a period of 20 years. This makes it possible to realise this wind farm without ‘green certificates’ (government support for the production of green energy, ed.).”
“Making steel simply emits a lot of CO2, you cannot avoid that, but ArcelorMittal is now investing in windmills and in new blast furnaces with reduced emissions”
In total, ArcelorMittal now has sixteen wind turbines on its site, good for 70 megawatts of green energy, which contributes to meeting its climate targets. ArcelorMittal wants to reduce CO2 emissions by a third by 2030 and be climate-neutral by 2050. This is a major shift: the steel plant is now Belgium's biggest CO2 producer.
Matthias Diependaele, who replaced Environment and Energy minister Zuhal Demir at the press conference, acknowledged that this windmill project is a compensation for the company’s high CO2 emissions. “Making steel simply emits a lot of CO2, you cannot avoid that, but ArcelorMittal is now investing in windmills and in new blast furnaces with reduced emissions”, he said, claiming that “ArcelorMittal is one of the cleanest steel companies in the world.”
In her speech, East Flanders provincial governor Carina Van Cauter took the opportunity to urge Flemish minister of Spatial Planning Demir to carry out legislative changes so that more wind turbines can be built in the Ghent port area. Currently, the possibility to build turbines is limited by strict spatial planning rules. Diependaele promised to present Van Cauter's concerns to fellow-minister Demir.
© BELGA PHOTO JAMES ARTHUR GEKIERE