The first turbine at Europe's biggest wind power installation using 6 MW units is now up and running at Estinnes, near Mons in Belgium. The giant machine, with a rotor diameter of 127 metres and a hub height of 135 metres, travelled by barge and road from Enercon's factories in Germany. In order to erect it, German crane manufacturer Terex Demag built the world's largest crawler crane, capable of lifting a nacelle weighing over 350 tonnes up to a hub height of 135 metres. The remaining ten turbines, also supplied by Germany's Enercon, should be installed by the end of this year or early next, depending on the weather. The project is the first for local developer WindVision, which will also own and operate the plant. When fully operational, it should produce an estimated 187 TWh of clean energy a year, sufficient to meet the needs of around 55,000 households. It is envisaged that Enercon will apply advanced technologies to increase the power output of the 6 MW units. A year ago it was announced they would be 7 MW units. The innovative side of the project, with a budget of around EUR 6 million, is being partially funded by the European Commission under its seventh R&D support program. This includes the logistics of transporting and lifting such big turbines and developing electronic systems to help stabilise the grid and forecasting software. The results will be published at the end of the EC project period.
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Senior Renewable Energy Analyst (WindGEMINI Product Lead) DNV GL Bristol (City Centre), City of Bristol