Belwind Makes Its Offshore Wind Farms Available to Lead Wind Turbine Testings Project (Belgium)

Belwind NV, the leading Belgian producer of alternative energy from offshore wind farms, is pleased to announce that, provided NER300 funding is approved, it will be making part of its latest wind farm concession site off the Bligh Bank on the Belgian continental shelf available for a project. This project will test the latest turbines developed for offshore wind energy generation to find the lowest cost of energy from offshore wind.

NER300 is a EU instrument designed to fund the demonstration of innovative renewable energy technology and carbon capture and storage (CCS). These funds are intended to accelerate the generation and provision of low carbon energy across Europe.

Belwind, with its strong international team of technology experts, has accumulated more than ten years of valuable experience in offshore wind farm project development and construction. Belgium’s largest renewable power plant was developed in a record time of just 3.5 years and was built in 16 months. It was completed in December 2010. Vestas, the leading European turbine manufacturer, has delivered and installed 55 V90 turbines, within budget and timing, for the Belwind Phase 1 project of 165 MW. Based on the successful collaboration during the first phase of the project on the Bligh Bank offshore wind farm, Vestas has been appointed preferred partner and supplier for the Eldepasco wind farm. This wind farm will be equipped with Vestas’ latest operational showpiece, the V112 3.0MW.

It is the only available offshore wind farm location in Belgium which is fully permitted and has grid connection of 165 MW. Belwind plans to make a part of its Phase 2 site available for the development of a Test site for the latest 6 MW+ turbines. Alstom and Vestas now join Belwind in the proposed NER300 scheme on the Bligh sand bank. The same tried and tested project execution procedures will be employed when Belwind leads this Phase 2 demonstration project, steering their impressive project partners towards innovation in offshore wind power construction and generation.

Both are already in an advanced stage with the onshore construction of the prototypes of their latest turbines to test their new technology. Belwind’s partners have a solid foundation in Belgium in their respective fields of technology and are set to seamlessly fit into the diverse array of expertise embedded in the project.

Apart from its prime objective to test the latest brand new wind turbine prototypes in offshore conditions, the search for the lowest cost of energy generated from offshore wind also provides for the determination of best practices for transport and installation procedures for offshore wind farms, for the validation of offshore foundation designs for deep waters, and for the evaluation of optimised operation & maintenance (O&M) strategies for large offshore wind farms. The outcomes will enable Belwind and its partners to further strengthen its position as a leading player in this field.

Alstom’s pioneering offshore wind technology is endowed with design features that boost reliability and energy yield to cut the cost of electricity, a key requisite for NER300 funding. These include the world’s longest turbine blades that boost energy yield, the unique ALSTOM PURE TORQUE™ concept that protects the generator thereby boosting reliability, and a compact and light direct drive Permanent Magnet Generator.

Vestas, in turn, has been responsible for the installation of around half of the world’s offshore sustainable energy generation capacity and furthermore has the largest pure wind R&D unit in the world, employing more than 2 000 employees.

Several other Belgian actors will provide the additional support that a project of this stature will require, adding local value for further development of offshore wind expertise in Belgium.

Installing the new technology prototype turbines in close proximity of each other and combining them with a park of already existing earlier generation turbines, will not only provide realistic comparisons between the different technologies, but will do so with valid and reliable scientific statements founded on a sound baseline. The new turbines feature the largest rotor diameters in industry resulting in highest capacity factors, built on 6MW+ platforms. The fact that Belwind will continue to follow-up throughout the O&M lifespan of the turbines, takes this project beyond the requirements of pure certification test sites.

Because the Belwind concession is so reliably representative for the next generation locations of North and East Sea offshore conditions, it will provide a sound base for the development of further wind farms by European countries such as France, the UK, Netherlands and Germany. It will not only guide the best technology for given conditions, but also identify the best potential locations for such developments to achieve the European Commission’s 20-20-20 plan targets.

Frank Coenen, CEO of Belwind NV, enthuses: “We know that we have the extensive knowledge and the experience in this field to make our Belgian experience add value to European initiatives beyond our borders, and we are keen to play that role fully. The excellent reputations of our long-standing partners, Alstom and Vestas, further enhance our innovative potential. Our team of superbly qualified engineers from across the globe has become our most valued export product. If approved, the NER300 funded project will offer the ideal platform for us to further grow this knowledge leadership”.

About Belwind:

Belwind NV’s current power station in the North Sea consists of 55 turbines and represents an investment of 650 million Euros. Belwind expects to provide 175,000 households in Belgium with green power, thus avoiding 270,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions per year. Cooperation between local, regional and national authorities made it possible to develop the wind farm in a record time of 3.5 years and to build it in only 16 months. Belwind will start the construction of its second, 165 MW, Phase in 2013.

About Alstom:

Alstom is a global leader in the world of power generation, power transmission and rail infrastructure and sets the benchmark for innovative and environmentally friendly technologies. Alstom builds the fastest train and the highest capacity automated metro in the world, provides turnkey integrated power plant solutions and associated services for a wide variety of energy sources, including hydro, nuclear, gas, coal and wind, and it offers a wide range of solutions for power transmission, with a focus on smart grids. The Group employs 93,000 people in more than 70 countries, and had sales of over € 23 billion* in 2009-2010.

About Vestas:

Vestas has been in the offshore wind industry since its beginning and has installed around half of the world’s offshore wind power plants i.e. a total of more than 550 offshore wind turbines, providing a capacity of over 1,400 MW. The V112-3.0 MW Offshore is the last turbine in the offshore product line available on the market. Currently, Vestas is working on the development of a 6MW dedicated offshore platform.

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Source: creative-strategies, April 07, 2011

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