small text size medium text size large text size print this article mail this article  

Construction work starts on Belgiumís largest onshore wind farm

16 March 2015

Belgium, in the Antwerp port area on the left bank of the Scheldt. In the first phase 15 wind turbines will be erected, enough to supply 35,000 Flemish households with green electricity. The ultimate ambition is to build anything from 40 to 50 turbines. Flemish Energy minister Annemie Turtelboom, Beveren mayor Marc Van de Vijver and Antwerp port alderman Marc Van Peel officially launched this sustainable investment project yesterday, auguring a fair wind for the future on the breezy left bank of the Antwerp port area. The first 15 turbines are due to be handed over at the end of October.

The way forward
Antwerp Port Authority and the Left Bank Development Corporation decided in September 2011 to team up with the Antwerp Green Port construction consortium to build a large-scale wind farm on the left bank of the Scheldt. Initial planning permission to build the wind turbines was granted in June 2013 to Wind aan de Stroom NV, a public project company set up to develop wind power on the left bank. In the months that followed there were intensive negotiations with the General Directorate of Air Transport and with Belgocontrol (the Belgian air control authority) to enable the planned development to go ahead. Given the specific nature of the industrial port area, with many tall obstacles and a high concentration of Seveso activities, special measures had to be taken in order to reconcile the project with air traffic and control. The contract for the actual construction of the turbines was awarded to Siemens Wind Power in June 2014. Work on the foundations for the first turbines began at the end of 2014, and the first components for the foundations were delivered at the beginning of 2015. Construction of the first 15 turbines is budgeted at 70 million euros.

The turbines
The state-of-the-art turbines with a capacity of 3 MW, a rotor diameter of 113 m and a shaft height of 115 m and will be supplied by Siemens Wind Power in Denmark. "One of the challenges of this project is installing the turbines on sites with restricted area, because of the high density of industrial activities in the port," explains Jan Kjaersgaard, CEO of the onshore activities of Siemens Wind Power. "Our D3 turbines meet all the requirements thanks to their compact design and low weight." The turbine rotors are also fitted with a Siemens anti-icing system to prevent ice build-up and the consequent danger of chunks of ice falling off in freezing weather. The first turbines will be installed on the sites of the following port companies: Antwerp Gateway, Borealis, Euroports, Global Container Services, Indaver, Luiknatie, Norbert Dentressangle, Sea Port Terminals, Tabaknatie and Van Loon Transport. "It is thanks to the willingness of the many companies to go along with the project and the collaboration between the partners that we have been able to get where we are today," emphasises Marc Van de Vijver, major of Beveren.

The partners
Wind aan de Stroom NV has three shareholders/partners: Antwerp Port Authority (47%), Left Bank Development Corporation (28%) and Groene Energie Haven Antwerpen NV (25%). The latter is a consortium of private partners who are all experienced wind power developers, namely Aspiravi NV, Vleemo NV and Polders Investering Fonds NV (PIF).

Energy Fund
Antwerp Port Authority reinvests its share of the revenue from wind power projects, ploughing it back into the port via the Energy Fund whose task is to facilitate energy-efficiency investments and to co-finance innovative energy concepts within the port area. In this way the Port Authority seeks to help non-energy-intensive companies in achieving energy efficiency in their own operations. "In this way we can all make our contribution towards the energy-efficient port of the 21st century," explains port alderman Marc Van Peel.

For example, the Energy Fund provides financial aid or offers practical assistance for companies to carry out energy audits, draw up strategic energy plans or carry out detailed lighting studies. Project proposals are examined by a steering group made up of representatives of the port community and experts in particular areas.