Protests on both sides of border -- Belgian offshore contract

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Having secured all necessary permits, power giant Electrabel and construction company Jan de Nul, the developers behind Belgium's first offshore wind farm, have named Vestas as turbine supplier. Construction of the 100 MW Seanergy project is planned for the autumn and is expected to be completed in 2004, given favourable rulings on a number of legal challenges, says Electrabel's Philippe Massart.

The Belgian Supreme Administrative Court can still derail the project, however. It is currently processing several challenges to the permits from local authorities in Belgian West Flanders and Dutch Zeeland who are angry about the lack of local consultation prior to the project's federal approval in June last year. "A ruling could take as long as two years," says Massart. "But we do not believe it will jeopardise the project."


In a deal worth EUR 95 million, Vestas-Nederland, the Dutch subsidiary of the Danish concern, will provide ten 2 MW V80 units for installation by October, with a further 40 to be installed in 2004. A two-phase structure has been chosen in an effort to iron out any problems before full construction begins. The deal is "very significant for the company," says Vestas-Nederlands' Rob Tomesen. Vestas, supplier to the newly completed Horns Rev plant in Denmark, the largest offshore wind station so far, has also been picked as supplier for the proposed 120 MW Q7 project in the Netherlands, and is supplying turbines to the 30 MW North Hoyle offshore project north of Wales.

The Seanergy project, which will be sited some 15 kilometres off the coast from Knokke-Heist at a water depth of 10 metres, looks likely to be the first project to be realised in Belgian or Dutch waters. In the Netherlands, both the government sponsored 99 MW near-shore pilot (NSW) to be developed by NUON and Shell, and the offshore Q7WP farm initiated by renewables agency E-Connection, have delayed construction until 2004.

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