First foundation of offshore wind farm Thornton Bank 2 installed off Belgium

The first foundation of the offshore wind farm Thornton Bank 2 has been successfully installed off the coast of Belgium. The around 50 metre high and 550 ton steel foundation (a so-called jacket foundation) was manufactured in Hoboken near Antwerp, and in the past few days it was transported via pontoons through the Scheldt estuary to its final destination around 30 kilometres off the Belgian coast.

Using a heavy duty crane, the foundation was then placed on top of the foundation piles that were already installed on the seabed and attached to them. This summer, all 25 foundations of the second construction phase of wind farm Thornton Bank will be installed in water depth between 12 and 25 metres.

“We are well on schedule with the Thornton Bank wind turbines project. The logistics chain is working extremely well and it allowed us to complete the preparations of the underwater construction site and the positioning of the foundation piles in the past few weeks as planned. Unless the weather thwarts our plans, the coming weeks and months will not only see the completion of the foundation work but also the wiring for the wind turbines and for the offshore substation”, explains Prof. Martin Skiba, head of Offshore Wind Power at RWE Innogy.

At the beginning of next year, the wind turbines themselves will be installed as well as the offshore substation. Thornton Bank´s second construction phase will have 24 6-megawatt wind turbines on around 10 square kilometres. The total weight that the individual foundations will carry is around 700 tons.

The third construction phase will be from 2012 until 2013 on a 12 square kilometre area, also with 24 wind turbines. The laying of a second 150 kilovolt underwater cable, which will transport the generated electricity ashore to the feed-in station in Sas Slijkens is also planned in spring 2012.

On completion, Thornton Bank wind farm will have installed capacity of around 325 MW, which corresponds to an annual electricity supply to around 600,000 people. The first construction phase of Thornton Bank has been underway since 2009. The 5-megawatt rotating plants at Thornton Bank 1 have since delivered around 97 percent availability.

The Thornton Bank wind farm is currently the largest project financed offshore wind farm in Europe. A total of eight European commercial banks – strengthened with the participation of the European Investment Bank and the German and Danish export credit agencies – are providing around 900 million euros of funding and risk sharing for the construction of the wind farm. RWE Innogy is the largest private shareholder in this offshore wind power project, owning 26.7 percent.

Dutch RWE subsidiary Essent will be responsible for selling the electricity generated by the second construction phase of Thornton Bank wind farm. Starting in January 2013, around 140,000 households will have their climate-friendly electricity supplied by the country’s largest offshore wind farm. The electricity purchasing agreement between C-Power and Essent has been entered into for a period of 15 years.