Europe's biggest wind power installation to use 6 MW turbines has just broken ground at Estinnes, near Mons in Belgium. The first of the 11 Enercon machines is scheduled to start operating this autumn, with the rest up and running by the end of 2009. Until now, 6 MW turbines have only been erected as single units. The project is breaking ground in other ways, too. Not only is it a first for local developer WindVision, which will own and operate the plant, but it has also been selected as an EU demonstration project under its seventh framework program for scientific research in support of new technologies. Enercon is expected to apply advanced technologies to increase the power output of each unit to 7 MW, taking the cumulative capacity of the small group of turbines to 77 MW. This demonstration work will be 50% funded by the EU under a new co-financing arrangement, while the rest of the project will be financed by WindVision using a combination of its own funds and bank loans. WindVision has siting permits for a further 30 MW in Belgium, which it expects to start building next year, and has applied for 50-75 MW in France for construction in 2010 if all goes well.
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