Plans Announced for Belgium’s Largest Offshore Wind Farm

Belwind, part of the Econcern group, plans to build an offshore wind farm on Bligh Bank, 46 kilometers from the Belgian port of Oostende. With 66 five-megawatt (MW) wind turbines, the 330 MW project represents an investment of Euro 800 million [US$1 billion].

“[The Bligh Bank project] is our largest project to date, and will also be one of Belgium’s biggest sustainable energy investments,” said Dirk Berkhout, member of the Econcern board, one of the project partners. “It’s not possible to undertake such a project on your own, so to ensure it becomes a success we’ll be engaging the right partners at the right time.” To develop the offshore wind farm Bligh Bank, Belwind was founded by Econcern, a European Top 500 growth company whose mission is to ensure ‘a sustainable energy supply for everyone.’ The Econcern group comprises Ecofys, Ecostream, Evelop and Ecoventures; together these companies deliver projects, products and services for a sustainable energy supply. The Evelop subsidiary currently holds a wind-energy project portfolio of some 4,000 MW. This includes the Q7 offshore wind project (120 MW) in the Netherlands and the Sheringham Shoal project (315 MW) in the United Kingdom. Belwind’s application for approval to build a wind farm on Bligh Bank was submitted in April 2006. The turbines will be placed on the shoal, where the sea reaches depths of 20-35 meters. The site is located even further offshore than those of C-Power and Eldepasco, two wind projects whose approvals already have been granted. As Belwind Director Frank Coenen explains, various phases need to be completed before the wind farm Bligh Bank can become operational: “After receiving the concession from the Federal Ministry of Energy, we will need permits from the Federal Ministry of the North Sea. In the most favorable situation, we would start building in 2009, and the wind farm would become operational in 2010.”

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