Two consortia plan 600 MW of projects near Belgium

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Two consortia have applied for a domain concession for offshore wind plant on Thornton Bank in Belgium's restricted economic interest area outside its North Sea territorial waters. The first, Zephyr, is a 50/50 consortium consisting of Belgian Shell and electricity producer SPE Power. Its plans are for a 300 MW plant with 110 turbines costing EUR 600 million. The projected power output would be sufficient to reach one-fifth of the Belgian renewable energy target for 2010, according to the company. The second consortium, C-Power, is applying for another 300 MW project on the same sand bank. The group consists of manufacturer Turbowinds, electricity distributor Interelectra, building company Dredging International, investment company Ecotech Finance and energy holding firm Socofe -- the last of which also holds shares in SPE Power. C-Power was most recently turned down for a 100 MW offshore proposal on the Wenduine Bank, around seven to ten kilometres from the shore between Oostende and Zeebrugge (Windpower Monthly, September 2001). This time C-Power's Filip Martens sees potential in the consortia joining forces in some areas -- particularly on the expensive cabling. Because Thornton Bank stretches 27 kilometres from the port of Zeebrugge, power cabling costs are far higher than they would have been for Wenduine Bank. Visual pollution should not be an issue again, however. A government commission is in charge of the applications which must be reviewed by 16 institutions and agencies before a permit recommendation is made to energy secretary Olivier Deleuze. As C-Power's failed proposal proved last time, a positive recommendation from Deleuze does not necessarily lead to a license. Meanwhile, of four Belgian offshore projects being planned for nearer the coast, Seanergy is the only developer to have obtained a building license, though it still needs a cable permit. Seanergy hopes to get that this year.

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