Typhoon seeks financial close for Gemini by summer 2013

Siemens to supply 4MW turbines, upgraded version of SWT 3.6

Dutch independent developer, Typhoon Offshore, continues to aim for financial close next summer on its 600MW Gemini project.

News emerged last week that the European Investment Bank (EIB) is considering a €500m loan to help finance the €2.6bn project, which has been redesigned and will now be powered by Siemens 4MW turbines – in an upgrade of the turbine manufacturer’s highly-successful 3.6MW machine.

The EIB has conducted detailed assessments of the project's financial and technical plans and while there are several stages still to complete, Typhoon expects EIB to make a decision late this year or early 2013. The company is also in talks with various export credit agencies.

It hopes to source 70% of project funding from commercial bank loans and 30% from a mix of equity and subordinated debt.

Typhoon bought the fully consented project, then known as Bard-Nederland, from troubled Bard Group last year, in association with Dutch utility HVC, which holds a 15% share.

Gemini is divided into two 300MW tranches lying 85km off the Dutch coast in water depths of up to 36m, with wind speeds averaging 10m/s. In 2010, the Dutch government granted both plots support under its renewables incentives programme (SDE), up to a maximum of €4.4bn. The SDE ensures producers a fixed price per kilowatt hour over a 15-year term.

The generation assets will be held by two limited companies, while a separate legal entity will own, maintain and operate the offshore transformer stations, export cables and other grid related assets. The generation companies will pay a transportation fee under a fixed 25-year contract to the grid company. Landfall will be near Eemshaven.

Dutch EPC contractor, Van Oord is helping to design the project and will oversee the build phase, including engineering, procurement, construction and installation of foundations, turbines and electrical infrastructure.

While Bard's original layout specified its own 5MW turbines, last April Typhoon opted for Siemens as its preferred turbine supplier. If confirmed, Siemens will supply 150 of its forthcoming 4MW machines, an upgraded version of the SWT-3.6 turbine.

Siemens has confirmed with Windpower Offshore that a 4MW upgrade of its 3.6MW machine is, indeed, foreseen for Gemini.

Typhoon not only regards the Siemens machines as less risky and more bankable than competitors, but they will also increase project output by 10%. In addition, they can supported by monopile foundations rather than the tri-piles that would have been needed for the 5MW turbines. This will help reduce project costs, says Typhoon.

Because Typhoon has redesigned the whole project, including turbine size, it has to submit changes to the Netherlands’ Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation for approval. This includes updating the environmental impact assessment (EIA) and the proposed route for the export cable. The cable route briefly runs through German territory, which means German authorities are also involved. Typhoon reports that it is working closely with the ministry and is confident approval will be forthcoming.

Typhoon anticipates a construction start in late 2013 or early 2014, with first power in 2015 and full production the following year. Originally, it had hoped to begin construction this past summer.