Bidders do battle for four concessions -- Belgium offshore tender

Up to another 1700 MW of offshore wind capacity could be installed in Belgian waters, depending on the outcome of a recent tender call for the remaining four maritime concessions. Fourteen new projects were submitted to the state regulator, CREG, along with two requests for extensions to concessions already granted. The four new concessions are located in a strip stretching from Thornton Bank to beyond Bligh Bank, roughly 30 and 60 kilometres offshore.

Four groups are competing for the concession to the south-east of Thornton Bank, the nearest to the shore: Elnu THV, consisting of local energy company Electrawinds and Dutch utility Nuon; the unidentified "Norther NV"; and Evelop, part of the Dutch Econcern group, which has submitted two separate bids, one under the name of North Sea Energy.

CREG received three applications for the zone between Thornton Bank and Bank Zonder Naam. They came from Belgian developer and operator Aspiravi; Rentel THV, made up of Electrawinds and Antwerp-based Rent-A-Port NV; and Evelop under the name Off-Wind NV.

There were four bidders again for the concession between Bank Zonder Naam and Bligh Bank: SeaStar THV, combining C-Power, under the name of Power@Sea NV, and Electrawinds; Blue4Power, a consortium of Belgian utility Electrabel and the dredging and marine engineering contractor Jan de Nul; Evelop under the name Vent du Nord; and Electrastar, a subsidiary of local developer Air Energy, under the name Atlantis.

The final three bids all relate to the area north of Bligh Bank: Seal THV, made up of C-Power, Electrawinds and Nuon; Blue4Power; and Northwester SA. The latter consists of Evelop together with Dutch turbine developer Blue H Technologies, energy consultancy TPF Group, Wagram Invest and energy supplier Transcor Astra Group, all Belgium-based. Northwester SA proposes to install up to 600 MW in the zone lying furthest offshore, in depths of up to 45 metres. These are ideal conditions, it says, for Blue H's innovative floating turbines, developed from deepwater oil and gas rig technology (Windpower Monthly, July 2008).

CREG also received requests from C-Power and Eldepasco to extend domains previously granted at Thornton Bank and Bank Zonder Naam, respectively. C-Power is the only concession holder yet to have got off the starting line. It powered up the first six Repower 5 MW machines of its 300 MW Thornton Bank project in September.

If all goes to plan, the winning bids could be announced by the end of next year, and some bidders say they could start installing turbines as early as 2012. Lack of sufficient grid capacity might be a problem, however. The current link is only big enough to cope with the three wind plant already authorised. The new concessions will have to wait until another extension has been built. CREG doubts this will happen before 2015.