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History

Generating energy has always occupied people. Windmills were never far off. The origin of the windmill is still a topic of debate, but according to some its origin lies, without a doubt, in the Low Countries. The oldest preserved windmill dates back to 1183 and is located in Wormhout, in French Flanders.

Classic power stations

Since the start of the previous century electricity has been generated by power stations which heat water with fossil fuel such as coal, natural gas or oil. Nuclear power plants generate heat from nuclear reactions.

Classic power stations pollute the environment and are harmful to our health. They produce dust, emit various gases and toxins (including CO2) and produce hazardous waste. And nuclear and gas plants are intrinsically dangerous for the population if something goes wrong. Unfortunately this is still the case. See the explosion of a gas plant in the US in 2010 for instance.

The realisation is also growing that soon all fossil fuels will be used up. Scientists disagree about the number of years we will still be able to use fossil fuels, varying from 30 to 60 years. To avoid any discussion you can take it for granted that within 80 years some fossil fuels will have been depleted.

More useful applications for oil and gas

Moreover, oil and gas have more useful applications in the petrochemical or plastics industry. If you know that plastic objects have a long lifespan, it is pure waste to use oil and gas as fuel because they are gone in a fraction of a second.

High time for alternatives, and this is when windmills come to the fore again. The last centuries they have been steadily disappearing from the landscape, but now they are working on a comeback.

Wind turbines create new industries

It is often forgotten that wind turbines create different types of new industry, and therefore also jobs. Already, the production of wind turbines is good for more than 200,000 jobs in Europe. And that doesn't include installation and maintenance. After a slow start, Belgium is also starting to see opportunities in this new sector.

Companies in Belgium make important parts for wind turbines. They include Hansen Transmissions, CG Holdings (ex-Pauwels Trafo), Fabricom GDF Suez, Iemants Staalbouw and Smulders Projects.

And in terms of engineering, construction and installation, Belgian companies have a foot in the door in what is becoming an important industrial sector in which they can be world players. DEME, CEI-De Meyer, Tractebel, 3 E Engineering, Grontmij, Miplan, Fabricom GDF Suez and CMI have shown the great potential of this sector.