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Project description

Name of the case study
Management of wind-farm developments in Wallonia (landscape and use of land)

Description of context
In order to reach the Kyoto protocol objectives, the Wallonian government planned to produce 4% of its energy needs via wind-farms by 2012.

Belgium was one of the first 18 countries that signed the European Landscape Convention that has been in force since March 2004.
"While every citizen must certainly play a part in preserving the quality of the landscape, public authorities have a duty to define the general framework for ensuring this quality" (

Implementing the EIA directive, categories of wind-farm projects and respective requirements for the environmental assessment have been defined. The most demanding assessment is required when the project is more than 3Mwatts. Main concerns are landscape, noise and birdlife

Description of project - background
The Wallonia Region encourages the production and use of green electricity. In particular, energy providers are required to buy a minimal ratio of the energy and received funding when buying this green energy (this process is called :green certificates) . Many private or public societies became interested in wind-farm settlements, resulting in a recent growth in Wallonia. In 1999, only one wind-farm was operating, in 2004 they were 38.

Beside this energy challenge, Regional authorities were confronted by impacts on landscape and use of land. This is more significant as the territory is small and contains many urban areas, as well as there being a lack of experience in this field.

Description of project - objectives/aims
The first objective of wind-farm developments is to produce 4% of Wallonia energy needs via Wind-Farms by 2012. A further important objective for wind farms is the territorial management of the spreading of these "small infrastructures".

Description of project - time interval and stages
The time intervals and stages of project realisation depend on the individual wind-farm development projects.

Production of wind-energy planned in the Wallonian Region
Production of wind-energy planned in the Wallonian Region

The example of Saint-Ode settlement (the first wind-farm project in Wallonia).

First project developed in Wallonia, Saint-Ode
First project developed in Wallonia, Saint-Ode

A private developer had the idea to develop a wind-farm project on a site where the wind speed is 6,7m/s on average December in 1999. The developer first created the Renewable Power Company s.p.r.l. and commissioned an EIA, which was completed by May 2001. 14 months later the development consent (unique license: ubanism+environment) was granted, and in February 2003, the wind-farm of 6 turbines began operation.

The example of Gembloux-Sombreffe settlement
Two developers from the area created the Air Energy company in June 2001. The farm of 4 wind-turbines was inaugurated in October 2003.

Description of project - financing
The financing of the project depends on the individual wind-farm development projects.

The example of Saint-Ode settlement
Total investment : 10 millions euros
Wallonian funding: 1,5 millions euros
Green certificates to be sell per year (money the developer will get back from the regional authorities) : 1,26 millions euros (estimation)

The example of Gembloux-Sombreffe settlement
Total investment : 7,2 millions euros
Green certificates to be sell per year: 1,35 millions euros (estimation)
More than 20 Belgian companies are involved in the project.

Description of project - other sectors involved
A wind-farm settlement often involves other sectors through the various aspects of the project development.

Concerning the whole regional territory:
• Landscape impact.
• Public acceptance
• Ground occupation (use of land)
• …

Noise pollution, Shadow flicker(*), Reflected light, Birds' migratory areas, Distances from housing, …

More generally, it could be said that social acceptance, besides environmental impacts and land-management should be analysed in more depth.

(*) Shadow flicker : Under certain combinations of geographical position and time of day, the sun may pass behind the blades of a wind turbine and cast a shadow. When the blades rotate the shadow flicks on and off. The effect only occurs inside buildings where the flicker appears through a window opening. The seasonal duration of this effect can be calculated from geometry of the machine and the latitude of the site.

What tools were used to assess sustainability?

EiEolienne planning-map

Framework of Guidelines for Wind Energy development

More information

Click here for a full description (pdf)