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Offshore Wind

C-Power closes world’s largest funding for offshore wind

By Oliver M. Bayani
The 300-megawatt Thornton Bank Wind Farm is located 30 kilometers off the Belgian coast in 28 meter-deep waters. Photo from RWE Innogy

Belgian wind developer C-Power N.V. has nailed down the largest financial package ever assembled for an offshore wind project after receiving 950 million euros ($1.22 billion) in loans for the second phase of the Thornton Bank wind farm in the North Sea.

The European Investment Bank, Denmark’s Eksport Kredit Fonden and Germany’s Euler Hermes will finance the 950 million euros needed, while the rest of the required 1.25 billion euro funding will be provided by commercial banks, including Société Générale, KBC, Rabobank, Commerzbank, Dexia and ASN Bank, local newspaper L’Anglophone reported.

C-Power said that the final contracts will be signed in September.

The 300-megawatt Thornton Bank wind farm is located 30 kilometers off the Belgian coast in 28 meter-deep waters. The wind farm is divided into three phases, and is expected to generate 1,000 gigawatt-hours of electricity annually – enough for 600,000 households.

The first phase, which went online in 2009, consists of six wind turbines from REpower Systems A.G. for a total capacity of 30 MW.

The second phase will consist of 24 new turbines rated at 6 MW each, marking the first time that an offshore wind project using such turbines has been financed. Construction of the second phase is scheduled for 2011 until 2012.

Another 24 wind turbines will be added during the third phase of expansion.

Aside from the Thornton Bank wind farm, the Belgian part of the North Sea will also see the rise of two other offshore wind projects: the 330-MW Belwind project on the Bligh Bank and the 216-MW Eldepasco wind farm on the Bank Zonder Naam.

The Belwind wind farm will be built in two phases, with 55 Vestas turbines to be installed during each phase. Located 42 kilometers off the coast, the wind farm is said to be the world’s farthest ground-mounted offshore wind project, according to the Management Unit of North Sea Mathematical Models. The wind farm will generate enough energy for 350,000 households.

The Eldepasco wind farm is a joint project between Electrawinds Limited, Depret Limited, Aspiravi Limited and WE Power Limited. The consortium made plans as early as 2005 to build the wind farm, which can provide power for about 200,000 households, at a distance of 38 kilometers from the coast.

The wind farm will use 36 to 72 wind turbines. The consortium already obtained the environmental permit in November 2009 and will move on with the construction of the wind farm next year.

These wind projects will help Belgium meet its renewable energy target as stated by the European Union in March 2007. The country has a goal to increase its use of renewable energy to 13 percent in 2020 from 2.2 percent in 2005.

However, Belgium suffers from the sluggish pace of renewable energy development. The country has little change from the 1.1 percent of renewable energy capacity recorded in 1997, placing it at the bottom of 15 countries that comprised the bloc, said the European Commission in 2008.

One possible factor of the slow renewable energy growth in Belgium is the different renewable targets in the country’s three regions.

The Wallonia region aims to generate 8 percent of its total energy consumption from renewable energy sources by 2010; Flanders targets 6 percent by 2010; and Brussels pursued 2.5 percent by 2006. Wallonia and Flanders are on track to meet their targets, while Brussels is expected to overtake its target from 2009 to 2010, the European Renewable Energy Council reported.

While biomass is traditionally strong in Belgium, wind energy development has shown strong growth in recent years, according to the commission. Wallonia aims to produce 370 GWh of wind-generated electricity by 2010, and Flanders intends to have as much as 1,000 GWh in the same year.

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