Wind Power Foundations In Place Off Belgium

Another big offshore wind power plant in Northern Europe is a step closer to a reality. Principal developer RWE Innogy said 24 jacket foundations for wind turbines, along with one more for an offshore transformer station, were installed at a site about 18 miles off the coast of Belgium.

According to the the company, Thornton Bank is going up in phases. Six turbines, built to demonstrate the project’s viability, are already up at Thornton Bank 1 (pictured below). In addition to installing the turbines on the just-completed foundations to complete Thornton Bank 2, next year the company said it will embark on construction of 24 more turbines foundations as part of Thornton Bank 3. In the end, the entire complex is expected to have an installed capacity of around 325 megawatts (MW).

offshore wind power, Thornton Bank

image via Ambau

The company said work began on the project in 2009, a fact that emphasizes how complex and challenging offshore installations can be – the foundations recently completed were installed in waters 12-25 meters deep.

“Every steel foundation is 50 meters high and weighs around 550 tons,” the company said. “Using a heavy duty crane, the foundations were placed on top of pre-installed piles on the seabed and attached to them.”

While Thornton 1 used 5-MW turbines, the second and third phases of the project will use 6-MW turbines. RWE said that since going online, “the 5-megawatt rotating plants at Thornton Bank 1 have … delivered around 97 percent availability.”

Pete Danko is a writer and editor based in Portland, Oregon. His work has appeared in Breaking Energy, National Geographic's Energy Blog, The New York Times, San Francisco Chronicle and elsewhere.