Northwind Offshore Wind Farm, Bank Zonder Naam, Belgium

Northwind Offshore Wind Farm is a new wind power project planned for construction on the Bank zonder Naam in the North Sea, about 38km off the coast of Belgium. Northwind (formerly Eldepasco) is responsible for the development, construction and operation of the wind farm.

Northwind was set up in 2007 by the Colruyt Group (66.7%) and Aspiravi Offshore (33.3%) to construct and run a wind farm on the Bank zonder Naam.

Northwind received the environmental approval for the project in November 2009. In March 2012, it announced the finalisation of major contracts with suppliers and service providers for the construction of the wind farm.

The construction of the wind farm is scheduled to commence in April 2013. Upon its completion, the wind farm will supply green power for 250,000 households.

Finances behind the Northwind offshore wind farm project

The Northwind offshore wind farm is expected to cost €883m ($1.17bn), of which €350m ($463m) will be secured from the risk sharing finance facility (RSFF) of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank. The rest of the funds will be secured by the owners through various debt raising options.

Vestas V112-3.0 MW wind turbines making up the development

"Northwind was set up by the Colruyt Group (66.7%) and Aspiravi Offshore (33.3%) to construct and run a wind farm on the Bank zonder Naam."

The Northwind wind farm will consist of 72 Vestas V112-3.0 MW wind turbines generating up to 216MW power. The V112-3.0 MW three-bladed offshore turbine was developed to yield optimum output in sea conditions. The unique new blade profile, complemented by the nacelle design and cooling-system, delivers more power from less weight.

The high, stable plant output is achieved through new GridStreamer technology. The turbine will deliver optimum power in average wind speeds of up to ten metres a second.

Each rotor will have a diameter of 112m and swept area of 9,852 square metres. The nominal rotational speed will be 13.8rpm. The top head mass of each unit will be 70t. Operational temperature ranges of the turbine are from -20°C to 35°C. The turbine design allows various installation set ups and is easily portable.

Offshore high voltage substation (OHVS) and onshore auxiliary systems

In March 2012, Crompton Greaves (CG) was contracted to commence a grid connection study and the supply of main transformer and reactors for the Northwind offshore wind farm.

"The Northwind wind farm will consist of 72 Vestas V112-3.0 MW wind turbines generating up to 216MW power."

Under the contract, CG will design and supply high voltage installation complying with ELIA (Belgian Transmission System Operator) grid connection requirements. This major work will involve the set up of an offshore high voltage substation (OHVS) and onshore auxiliary systems.

The mechanical construction of the offshore platform will be held in Aalborg, Denmark. The platform will be shipped to Belgium for final assembly on a monopole foundation. The offshore substation is expected to become operational in September 2013.

The OHVS will be connected to the onshore grid by a 220kV submarine export cable. The wind farm will also be linked to the future Belwind Phase II wind farm located off the coast of Belgium. The cable will transfer a total of 381MW from both wind farms to the onshore grid connection at Zeebrugge.

Contractors linked to Northwind's North Sea-based wind farm

In September 2011, a NIRAS and LIC Engineering joint venture was awarded a contract to provide designs for the wind farm. Scope of work covers the design of foundation structures for wind turbines, as well as for a transformer station, in water depths of up to 28m.

In January 2012, Vestas Offshore received a conditional contract from Northwind to supply 72 V112-3.0MW turbines for the North Sea-based offshore wind farm. The contract also includes the installation of the turbines and a service agreement for 15 years.

In April 2012, Nexans was awarded a €50m ($66m) contract to supply 57km of high-voltage subsea power export cables to the wind farm. Under the contract, Nexans will also supply onshore transition joints and electrical accessories for the project.