RWE Innogy involved in the expansion of Belgian offshore wind farm Thornton Bank

 Investment decision reached on expansion stages 2&3. Additional output of 295 MW. Largest offshore wind farm in Europe to be project-financed by banks. Availability of the 30 MW Thornton Bank 1 pilot phase over 97 percent.

The C-Power consortium, of which RWE Innogy is a shareholder, reached an investment decision concerning the construction of the second and third expansion phases at Thornton Bank offshore wind farm, located off the Belgian coast.

RWE Innogy holds 26.73 percent of the C-Power consortium, responsible for constructing the offshore wind farm some 30 kilometres off the coast near Ostend. The expansion phases will mean additional wind energy output totalling 295 megawatts (MW), to be connected to the grid during two construction periods in 2012 and 2013.

Once complete Thornton Bank offshore wind farm will boast installed output in the region of 325 MW, supplying some 600,000 private Belgian consumers with electricity a year. The initial phase of Thornton Bank has been operating successfully with an output of 30 MW since June 2009.

Professor Fritz Vahrenholt, Chairman of the Board of Directors for RWE Innogy GmbH: “We have already gathered a lot of positive experience from the first phase at Thornton Bank. The first six of the 5 megawatt wind turbines installed there boast an availability of approximately 97 percent. That’s a fantastic result and makes us confident of achieving the transition from a wind power pilot location to a large-scale commercial operation with expansion phases two and three.”

During the two expansion phases a total of 48 wind turbines of the 6.15 megawatt category produced by REpower Systems are to be installed. These machines are a further development of the tried and tested 5 MW turbine. The turbines are to be constructed in water ranging between 12 and 25 metres in depth on steel framework foundations known as jackets. In addition to the turbines, an offshore substation will be constructed as well as a second 150 kilovolt (kV) subsea cable – for transporting the electricity generated to land.

Thornton Bank wind farm is currently the largest offshore wind farm in Europe being project financed by banks. In total, seven European commercial banks and the European Investment Bank as well as the German and Danish Export Credit Agencies are providing approximately 900 million euros in financing and venture capital. Total investment amounts to approximately 1.3 billion euros.

“A groundbreaking project like Thornton Bank 1 gives another massive boost to our offshore credentials , bringing us ever closer to our goal of being one of the three largest operators of offshore wind farms in the world by 2014,” explains Professor Martin Skiba, Director of Offshore Wind at RWE Innogy.

RWE Innogy is currently constructing – on its own or in partnership – a portfolio of offshore wind farms, of which it owns an installed capacity. of 1000 MW. These include the Nordsee Ost offshore wind farm (295 MW) some 30 kilometres northeast of the island of Helgoland, and Gwynt y Môr (576 MW) in the Irish sea off the Welsh coast. By 2014 the company will have obtained permits for further offshore wind projects with an output totalling 5,000 MW.

RWE´s subsidiary Essent will purchase the power generated from Thornton Bank’s second extension phase. From 2013, the company will supply around 140,000 households in Belgium with green energy from the country’s largest offshore wind farm. The power purchase agreement was signed today by C-Power and Essent for a period of 15 years.