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Belgium

Belgium

First station becomes fully operational -- Dutch and Belgian North Sea

While Belgium is still waiting for its first wind farm at sea, neighbouring Netherlands has at last got a truly offshore wind power plant -- and a second is on the way. Online is the 108 MW Egmond aan Zee station, comprising 36 Vestas 3 MW units. It was built by Bouwcombinatie Egmond, a joint venture of Vestas and Dutch offshore contractor Ballast Nedam, and is operated by NoordzeeWind, a partnership between Shell and Dutch utility Nuon. The EUR 200 million project is located 10-18 kilometres off the coast and supplies more than 100,000 households a year.

The next Dutch project to start turbine installation will be the 120 MW Q7 wind farm being developed by Eneco, Econcern and Energy Investments Holding. With its final permits in place and financing for the EUR 383 million project agreed in October, construction work is underway and slated to be completed by March 2008.

"This wind farm represents an important milestone in offshore wind energy worldwide," says Jeppe Machielsen of Eneco. "It is the first offshore wind farm to be based on non-recourse project finance. The banks have great confidence in this project and are willing to arrange much of the financing, without additional guarantees." The banks in question are Coöperatieve Centrale Raiffeisen Boerenleenbank (Rabobank) and Dexia Crédit Local. The Danish government's export credit fund is also involved (Windpower Monthly, July 2006). The 60 Vestas 2 MW turbines will be installed 23 kilometres off the coast near Ijmuiden. Vestas Offshore will initially operate the wind farm under a five-year O&M contract.

Meanwhile, Irish firm Airtricity hopes to start building its EUR 700 million, 284 MW West Rijn offshore wind farm in 2010, having recently been granted the exclusive rights to the site, located 40 kilometres off the coast near Scheveningen in the North Sea. It faces several public hearings, however, before a final permit is granted, so the project is by no means a given. Since the government announced in 2004 that it was making 48 locations in the Dutch exclusive economic zone available for offshore wind farm development, permit applications for around 90 separate projects have been made.

Slow off Belgium

Meanwhile, three offshore projects are planned in Belgian waters, although none of these are likely to be even partially operational until at least 2010. C-Power expects to install the first six Repower 5 MW units for its 60 turbine Thornton Bank project in 2008. Located about 30 kilometres off the coast, the project is to have a capacity of 216-300 MW. Turbines for the next stage have yet to be selected. Phase two of the project will comprise 18 turbines, with 36 more added for phase three. Costing more than EUR 500 million in total, Thornton Bank is expected to be fully operational in 2011.

Another project, comprising 66, 5 MW machines, is being developed by Belwind, part of Dutch renewables firm Econcern. Construction on the EUR 800 million offshore wind farm at Bligh Bank, 46 kilometres off the Belgian port of Ostend, is hoped to start in 2009 with a view to full commissioning in 2010. Meanwhile, Belgium's third offshore project, Eldepasco, will be built on the Bank Zonder Naam, 35 kilometres off the Belgian coast, and is being developed by a consortium comprising Electrawinds, Depret/Artes-groep, Aspiravi and Colruyt. The EUR 500 million plan envisages 36 turbines with rated capacities of 5 MW each. The project was granted a site concession in June 2006 and is due online in 2011.

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