First ever wind farm at Zeebrugge upgraded

After more that two decades of operation, Belgium's first wind power installation -- one of Europe's earliest wind farms -- built in 1986 on the harbour wall of Zeebrugge, is to be upgraded from 8 MW to 12 MW early next year. The current owner, Belgian renewables developer and operator Aspiravi, is investing EUR 20 million in replacing the 24 aged HMZ WindMaster machines with 14 Vestas 850 kW units. The plant was originally built as a demonstration project by HMZ WindMaster, which declared itself bankrupt in 1996. Belgian utility Interelectra bought the plant in 1996, before Aspiravi took it over in 2003. The following year, one of the 600 kW machines suffered a dramatic failure when it ran out of control, sending bits of blade flying over a wide area. Nevertheless, the oldest units at the site, ten WindMaster 200 kW units, have been running since 1987.