Offshore, Project Development, Wind Power

Thornton Bank Offshore Project Officially Commissioned

Thornton Bank, Belgium’s first offshore wind farm, has been officially inaugurated.

Currently comprising six turbines in the 5 MW class following the first phase of development, another three sections are to be added by 2013, bringing the total capacity up to 300 MW.

The first six wind power turbines were installed on gravity foundations in 2008, at a water depth of some 28 metres around 30 kilometres off the coast near Zeebruge 

With a rated capacity of 5 MW each and a rotor diameter of 126 metres the machines are REpower 5M turbines.

Smaller quantities of electricity have already been injected into the transport network for several months; after the perfect running of all test procedures, the last wind turbine was started up in May bringing the current capacity to 30 MW.

The construction phase was accompanied by the laying of a 150 kV cable while the erection of a substation at sea and laying of a further 150 kV cable will form part of the next construction phases.

Once completed, its annual output will be around 1 TWh, RWE Innogy says, one of the developers and at 27% the biggest shareholder.

Belgium’s Prime Minister Herman Van Rompuy commented: “This innovative project in all conditions: distance to the coast, water depth and installed turbine capacity, will be a landmark for our country and to the world.”

“Thornton Bank is in many ways unique in Europe at the moment. Equipped with the biggest turbines in the world, the wind farm sets standards in matters of construction, grid access and operation. The experiences gathered here will benefit us greatly in future offshore projects,” said Prof. Fritz Vahrenholt, CEO of RWE Innogy GmbH.

The Thornton Bank Wind Farm will contribute substantially to the development objectives of the Belgian government concerning renewable energies. Compared with a modern gas-fired power plant, it avoids approx. 450,000 metric tonnes of CO2 per year.