The 4.5 MW demonstration project is sited near the mouth of the Scheldt river, the most windy area of Belgium after the coast, and is projected to produce eight million kWh a year. The development brings Belgian's wind power total to 17.91 MW provided by 38 operating wind turbines.
Schelle is a relatively depressed area and an ecological project using new technology is being welcomed. Electrabel notes, however, that the EUR 5.4 million cost of the project is more than would have been needed for the same sized combined cycle gas plant, which would have produced more power per megawatt installed. Two previous wind projects planned for north of Antwerp at Zanvliet (seven turbines) and Doel (five turbines) were shelved because of bird protection regulations.
In the flat Flanders landscape the three turbines, on 85 metre towers, are taller than any other structure in the region, barring the two cooling towers of Electrabel's Doel nuclear plant. The turbines have been named Steve, Willy and Rob after the Flemish energy minister Steve Stevaert, Electrabel director Willy Bosmans and the major of Schelle, Rob Mennes.
As well as building onshore, Electrabel is also behind a proposed 100 MW wind farm for a site off the Belgian coast. Renewable energy is expected to contribute 0.96% of Flemish electricity consumption by the end of this year, which should rise to 5% by 2010. Wallonia, the southern part of Belgium, is aiming for 8% from renewables, much of that as small hydro.