Belgium has officially started building their massive offshore wind farm that’s expected to be operational by the end of next year. The Norther project, valued at over $1.4 billion USD, will have a capacity of 370 megawatts when fully completed. It’ll spread out with 44 wind turbines in total, and it’s expected to satisfy 10 percent of Belgium’s needs by 2025.
Norther will be Belgium’s biggest offshore wind farm. Elicio, a renewable energy producer under Nethys, holds a 50 percent stake in the project. Eneco from the Netherlands and Diamond Generating Europe (which is under the Mitsubishi Corporation) each hold a 25 percent stake.
Each wind turbine will be an MHI Vestas V164 with a maximum output capacity of 8.4 megawatts. They were selected in a competitive bidding process and they’ve also worked with Eneco in the past. MHI Vestas turbines were used in two wind farm projects in the Netherlands, Eneco Luchterduinen and Princess Amalia.
“This is one of the first visible activities of the construction of the Norther offshore wind farm," Dennis Sanou, Norther project director, told Offshorewind.biz. "We are delighted to launch the construction of the Norther project. This will be the biggest wind farm of the Belgian coast. We are also very proud to actively contribute to the Belgian climate objectives for 2020."
Financing on the project was completed at the end of 2016, which paved the way for the process of construction over the past year. The European Investment Bank has provided a loan for $473 million US toward the project. The rest of it will come from various European and Japanese banks.
The new offshore wind project will be just over 14 miles off the coast of Zeebrugge, within Belgium’s exclusive economic zone in the North Sea. Van Oord will be the project's main contractor. They will be installing the foundation beginning in July, which will also feature protective layers to protect the turbines from erosion.
“After a long period of preparations carried out in close cooperation with the client, our project team is impatient to launch the offshore operations," Floren Verweij, Van Oord's project director, told Offshorewind.biz. "Together, we will realize the biggest wind farm project in Belgium.”
With a capacity of 370 megawatts, Norther should have the ability to power 400,000 households. It’s expected to generate nearly 1.4 gigawatt-hours of clean energy on an annual basis. There will also be 2,800 full-time direct and indirect jobs involving the wind farm, which includes construction and maintenance.