Despite market warnings that the Eurozone crisis and financial legislation such as Basel III has dampened banks' enthusiasm for long-term lending to immature sectors such as offshore, the Belgian project secured EUR653 million in 17-year debt in June as part of a project-finance package worth EUR907 million.
Jerome Guillet, managing director of Green Giraffe Energy Bankers, financial adviser to the project's developer - a joint venture between Belgian firms Colruyt and Aspiravi - said the deal shows that long-term finance for offshore wind is still possible. "It's a reminder that money is there and people that want project finance can find it on terms they find acceptable," he said.
Guillet believes that Northwind's success is largely through many of the individuals working on the project having worked on previous major offshore wind farms.
Additionally, banks were comfortable because the processes used were similar to those on earlier deals, Guillet said, and Belgium has a good regulatory framework, which he described as simple and understood by the market.
Construction of Northwind is set to start early in 2013. It will comprise 72 Vestas V112-3MW turbines, erected in the North Sea 37 kilometres from Oostende.