The Thornton concession, for a sand bank some 30 kilometres off the Belgian coast, follows a positive decision on the project by the Commission for Regulation of Electricity and Gas (CREG) two months ago. The concession means C-Power has cleared one of a number of hurdles before construction work can begin on the EUR 500-600 million project in 2005.
Junior energy minister Alain Zenner was not as kindly disposed to the proposal by Fina Eolia for 130 MW at Vlakte van de Raan, 13 kilometres offshore near Knokke-Heist. He refused to issue a 20 year concession, despite approval by CREG, on grounds of the visibility of the turbines, arguing they would damage tourism and with it the regional economy.
Fina Eolia says it will examine the reasons for the refusal before deciding on a possible appeal. Just three months ago, a 100 MW project proposed for Knokke-Heist by a competitor, Seaenergy, was stopped in its tracks when its building permit was cancelled, also because of visibility arguments (Windpower Monthly, May 2003).