Turbine contract soon for Belgium's Thornton Bank project

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C-Power, the Belgian company developing the 60 turbine Thornton Bank offshore project, will be awarding the turbine contract and other equipment and supplier contracts by September, says the company's Filip Martens. Preparatory project work is set to start by winter and at the site in April, if weather permits. Located 30 kilometres into the North Sea, Thornton Bank will eventually have a capacity of at least 216 MW to a maximum of 300 MW and will generate 710-1000 GWh, enough electricity for 200,000-300,000 families. The C-Power consortium has already obtained all necessary permits. Previously it has said it will pick turbines in the 3.6 MW to 5 MW size range, naming GE Wind Energy's 3.6 MW offshore wind turbine as an example. But it also has the whole range of currently available technology in mind: Vestas V120 4.5 MW, Repower's 5 MW M5, the Enercon 4.5 MW E-112, Siemens SWT 3-4 MW technology, the Multibrid 5 MW M 5000 and the Nordex 5 MW. Martens says the contract will go to only one manufacturer. "We will start injecting energy from the first six turbines on September 30, 2007." After the initial six units are placed, they will be followed by 18 each year until 2011 when the whole development will be operational. The project is "on track" he says, pointing out that work has been ongoing since 1998. Thornton Bank represents a third of the Belgian renewable energy target for 2010. The C-Power consortium contains a number of big name companies, including French state utility Electricité de France; Dredging International (which is involved in five out of eight of the existing multi-megawatt offshore wind stations built so far); Interelectra, operator of the first and largest wind farm in Belgium in Zeebrugge; investment company Socofe and SRIW, an environmental investment firm and like Socofe from Belgium's Walloon region. The first phase of Thornton Bank is estimated to cost EUR 100 million and the total investment for the 60 turbines is more than EUR 500 million.

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