Worlds Largest Wind Turbines Headed for Offshore of Belgium

Construction is just beginning on the $206-million first phase of a 300-MW Belgian offshore wind farm, unusually financed by loans guaranteed by future sales. The first six, 5-MW wind turbines, the world’s largest, are scheduled for completion next year.

Altogether, 60 turbines are planned in nearly 30-meter deep water on Belgium’s Far Shore Thornton Bank off Zeebrugge by 2011. The 126-m-diameter rotor blades of the turbines, supplied by Germany’s REpower A.G., will be mounted on 97-m-tall towers.

C-Power is owned by several companies, including Dredging, Environmental and Marine Engineering (DEME)N.V., Zwindrecht, and a unit of Electricité de France S.A., Paris. For the first phase, C-Power closed a loan deal late last month with France’s Dexia Bank and Dutch-based Rabobank. Together, the banks provided non-course loans lasting up to 15 years.

Installation of first 20, 2-MW turbines, with 80-m-diameter rotors, began early this month, with last one due this September. Located in 19 m to 24 m of water 23 km offshore, all 60 units are slated to start operation late next year.

Phase I: 6*5MW – Phase II: 24*5,25MW – PhaseIII: 24*6MW -300 MW
water depth: 12 to 27,5 m
distance to the coast: 27 to 30 km
start construction: May 2007
start production: start 2009
Annual generation: 1000 GWh = Enough energy for the annual consumption of 600.000 inhabitants
Avoided CO2 emission: 450,000 tonnes/year (compared with the environmentally most friendly gas power stations) = the annual CO2 absorption of a forested area of 87,668 ha= a strip of forest 15km wide along the entire Belgian coastline= 4 x the area of public forest within the Flemish Region= 1/3rd of the Belgian renewable energy target by 2010


More than half of all greenhouse gasses in Belgium are emitted by the energy sector. In the context of the world climate conferences and the Kyoto declaration, Belgium has accepted the obligation to reduce greenhouse gasses emissions with 7.5% by 2010 compared to the 1990 emissions level.

It goes without saying that Belgium’s climate policy pays particular attention to the energy sector in order to meet the Kyoto targets. The targets in the energy sector can only be reached by both encouraging Rational Energy Use as well as developing renewable energy sources.

To meet the European target for renewable energy, Belgium aims to generate 6% of its electricity from renewable energy sources by 2010. In this way it can fulfil its Kyoto obligation. This means that Belgium must generate a further 4% of "green electricity" or about 3.2 TWh by 2010. At present wind energy is capable of making the most economical and realistic contribution towards achieving this desired increase in renewable energy sources.

In accordance with the Kyoto agreement and the world climate conferences, a European Directive (EU/77/01) was issued on 27 September 2001. The European Commission has launched on 15 May 2009 a call for proposals covering energy projects such as energy interconnections, offshore wind energy and carbon capture and storage as part of the implementation of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR).


Due to the relatively small area of Belgian territorial waters and the large number of limiting factors, the range of possible locations for offsore wind power parks is severely limited. After an evaluation of near-shore projects and public decision-making in this connection, C-Power has made a firm decision in favour of a location outside the 12 mile zone. After an in-depth study the "Thornton Bank" has turned out to be the best choice of location for a farshore wind farm.