Yesterday, the Belgian Prime Minister Elio di Rupo officially inaugurated the Thornton Bank offshore wind farm.
With a capacity of 325 megawatts (MW), the wind farm is the largest in the Belgian North Sea and will provide green electricity to 300,000 households each year. Eight European banks, the German and Danish export credit agencies and the European Investment Bank have provided around € 900 million in financing and venture capital. The total investment amounts to approx. € 1.3 billion. RWE Innogy is the largest private shareholder in Thornton Bank wind farm with a share of 26.7%.
Dr. Hans Bünting, CEO of RWE Innogy, stated: “At the present time, the Thornton Bank offshore wind farm is unique throughout Europe in many respects. Equipped with the largest offshore turbines currently available, the wind farm has been setting standards in terms of construction, network connection and operation. The implementation of the project together with partners has been trendsetting in particular. In the future, there will hardly be any companies who are able to tackle the construction of offshore wind farms on their own – such projects are just too capital-intensive. That is why for me Thornton Bank is a successful example of the energy transition in Europe.”
All in all, it took almost ten years to complete the wind farm, from the award of the first permits and concessions and the search for financial investors through to the development of technical solutions and actual construction. “During all these years, C-Power and all its partners performed pioneering work resulting today in an offshore wind energy farm that has become a worldwide reference,” said Jaak Rutten, CEO of C-Power, the consortium that developed and realised the Thornton Bank offshore wind farm.
The 54 wind turbines of the Thornton Bank wind farm are situated some 30 kilometres off the coast of Belgium in waters up to 30 metres deep. Construction of Thornton Bank was executed in three phases. During the first phase, six wind turbines of the 5-megawatt class were built on gravity-based foundations. Thornton Bank 1 was commissioned as early as 2009. Thornton Bank 2 consists of 24 wind turbines of the 6-megawatt class which were installed on steel structures, so-called jacket foundations. These turbines of the second phase were fully commissioned at the beginning of this year. The third and last phase of the wind farm development saw the installation of 24 wind turbines of the 6-megawatt class which have been generating green electricity since July of this year.
The main partners involved in the successful construction of the wind farm included the consortium THV Seawind (joint venture between Dredging International, Belgium, and Fabricom, France), the German companies REpower Systems SE and ABB as well as the port of Ostend, Belgium.
Press release, September 18, 2013; Image: C-Power N.V. Tom D’Haenens