The construction of the largest Belgian wind farm can now really begin. Following the European Commission’s state-aid approval, the Norther project has completed its financing phase and all contracts have been signed. Offshore works are planned to start in the spring of 2018. From the summer of 2019 on, this wind farm will supply energy to about 400.000 households. This was made possible in part by the collaboration of the federal government and the support of 8 banks, the European Investment Bank and EKF (Export Credit Agency of Denmark).
Norther, the largest offshore wind farm in Belgium, counts 44 wind turbines MHI Vestas 8.4 MW each. This renders a total maximum capacity of 370 MW, which makes it the largest offshore wind farm in Belgium. It will be built 23 km off the coast, between Ostend and Zeebruges. Important partners in the construction part of this project are, amongst others, MHI Vestas (supplier of the wind turbines), Van Oord (installing foundations, sea cables and offshore high-voltage substation) and Elia (connection to the transport grid).
This project is financed by private and public investors, with on the one hand ABN Amro, Belfius, BNP Paribas Fortis, BTMU, Rabobank, SMBC, SMTB, Société Générale and on the other hand the European Investment Bank and EKF (Export Credit Agency of Denmark). The total amount financed by the banks is 867 million euros. The rest of the financing is provided in equity by the shareholders. Green Giraffe and Chatham have advised the project on financial matters.
“Norther is responsible for a total investment of 1.2 billion euro in renewable energy. The support and the confidence from the banks, the EIB and the EKF, are of great support to this project. The fact that the European Investment Bank is one of the most important participants in our project constitutes a clear signal that Europe is confident about the investment climate in Belgium. I would also like to stress the important and positive role that was played by the federal government, the CREG and the European Commission in this matter. Their support is of crucial importance regarding the role of renewable energy in the Belgian energy policy.”
Dennis Sanou, project director
“Norther will generate electricity equalling the annual consumption of about 400.000 households. It means that this project is a substantial contribution to reaching the Belgian climate goals in 2020. We are very proud that we can now actually start to turn this enormous project into reality.”
Ludo Vandervelden, general manager of Elicio
The shareholders in this project are all parties with the necessary expertise and experience in developing renewable energy projects. Norther is ultimately owned by three parties: Belgian Elicio (50%), Dutch Eneco (25%) and since recently also Diamond Generating Europe (25%).
“Partnering with Diamond Generating Europe (“DGE”) was a logical choice for us. Eneco already has a long-term relationship with them in the Luchterduinen wind farm in the Netherlands. It was an obvious choice to team up with such an experienced partner, demonstrating long standing international experience in large renewable energy projects of national importance.”
Miguel de Schaetzen, general manager at Eneco Wind Belgium
The construction of this wind farm reconfirms the expertise present in Belgium in terms of offshore wind energy. Together with Danish and Dutch partners, Norther will have an important part of the construction work done by experienced Belgian companies at building sites in Belgium. The construction of the project will generate about 1.400 direct jobs (FTE’s) and will indirectly generate another 1.400 jobs (FTE’s).