The director of the Federation of Renewable Energies welcomes the new Walloon wind power framework. However, he calls for caution regarding the obligation to involve municipalities and citizens in all projects.
1. The Walloon government has agreed on a new Pax Eolienica. Will this boost wind power?
1. The Walloon government has agreed on a new Pax Eolienica. Will this boost wind power? Anyway, we hope so. The government is raising the wind power production target from 4,600 to 6,200 GWh in 2030. The share of wind power in the Walloon energy mix could thus double, this is a very significant message. It was also absolutely necessary to review the framework so that we could install the best possible technologies in Wallonia, that is to say larger wind turbines. The criterion of distance from residential areas was linked to the size of the wind turbine – four times the height – and it became very difficult, given the fragmented habitat, to install wind turbines over 150 m. However, today, it is mainly 200 m wind turbines that are sold in Europe. 2. Won’t this intensify local residents’ appeals against wind projects? The Pax Eolienica foresees a distance of 500 m, plus half the height of the mast. In concrete terms, this means that we are not getting closer to homes but that, at an equivalent distance, we can install larger wind turbines. Noise standards, landscaping criteria remain and, moreover, the size of the machines has evolved. A 200 m wind turbine today seems less stocky than a 150 m wind turbine in 2010. You should know that the higher you go in altitude, the more quality wind you capture and the more the producible improves. A 180 m wind turbine is 30% more producible than a 50 m wind turbine. And if you go up to 200 m, it’s 50% more. The issue is therefore crucial for the development of wind power in Wallonia. 3. The project provides for the obligation to open up wind projects to participation by municipalities and citizens. Can this help to remove the reluctance of local residents? Involving municipalities and citizens in the development of projects is certainly a good thing. However, you have to be careful. If you want to involve people, you have to do it right from the start. However, most wind projects are the subject of appeals and are sometimes blocked for several years at the Council of State. An incidence study costs 100,000 euros; if the project is broken, the money is lost. We have already seen very unfortunate cases of this type. A company integrates risk into its business plan. For a municipality or citizens, it is more delicate. This is the downside that I see with a laudable intention – I repeat – and which will reinforce the acceptability of the projects.