Offshore site chosen

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Electricity producer Electrabel and dredging company Jan De Nul have agreed to build what is being billed as the largest European offshore wind plant. It will be built in the North Sea about 12 kilometres off the coast of Knokke-Heist, the most affluent, most residential and most northeastern Flemish shoreside community.

The site, the "Plain of the Raan," was chosen after a detailed study carried out by both partners in collaboration with Tractebel, of which Electrabel is a subsidiary. The first phase is to consist of about 50 turbines with a combined capacity of 100 MW. Later the facility will be increased to 400 MW. The first 100 MW will guarantee an annual production of 300 million kWh. An average Belgian family yearly consumes about 3,500 kWh.

For the moment the two companies are working on the required environmental impact study which must be finished before the end of this year. Coastal residents, the regional authorities and all interested parties will be consulted. Electrabel and Jan De Nul are aiming to complete construction by 2004.

Another offshore player, consortium C-Power, earlier announced its intention to build a 100 MW wind plant on the Westende sandbank off the middle of Belgium's coastline some five kilometres offshore (Windpower Monthly, June 2000). C-Power includes wind turbine manufacturer Turbowinds, public electricity distributor Interelectra, and dredging group Dredging International. Belgian's only existing large wind farm, on the harbour wall at the port of Zeebrugge, was built in 1985 as a pioneer project by a company from which Turbowinds has descended and by Interelectra.

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