Clean Power

Published on September 18th, 2013 | by Joshua S Hill


One Of Europe’s Largest Offshore Wind Farms Commissioned

September 18th, 2013 by  

One of Europe’s largest offshore wind-farm’s has finally been commissioned, upon completion of its 60 kilometres worth of 36 kilovolt infield submarine cable linking it to the Belgium grid. The Thornton Bank wind farm was commissioned by ABB for Belgian company C-Power NV on schedule.

“Integrating renewable energy sources to the grid is a key focus area as Europe strives to balance the need for electricity with minimizing environmental impact,” said Brice Koch, head of ABB’s Power Systems division. “The close collaboration with C-Power combined with ABB’s technologies, domain competence and experience were key success factors in the smooth execution of this project.”

5 megawatt turbines at Thornton Bank offshore wind farm Image Credit: ABB

5 megawatt turbines at Thornton Bank offshore wind farm
Image Credit: ABB

Located 30 kilometres off the Belgian coast in the North Sea, the transmission link was the final stage in the commissioning of the Thornton Bank wind farm, which was preceded by the installation of 54 wind turbines, then another 48.

ABB were responsible for the system engineering, design, supply, and commissioning of the submarine cables, the land-based cable systems, and the offshore substation and platform that houses it. The energy generated by the Thornton Bank wind turbines is fed into the Belgian grid at the Slijkens high-voltage substation  Bredene, located approximately 3 kilometres inland.

ABB are suitable proud of this latest achievement. “ABB was selected by C-Power for the project because it could provide the complete offshore wind power connection to ensure the safe and reliable delivery of energy from the wind farm to the onshore transmission grid,” said Geert Dewaele, Chief Technical Officer of C-Power. They go on to say in their press release;

ABB is the only company that can provide a complete electrical offshore wind farm connection consisting entirely of its own products – high-voltage submarine and underground cable systems, offshore substation and onshore grid connection. By providing all the products ABB was able to optimize the solution in terms of equipment and materials to meet the requirements of C-Power for cost efficiency and performance.

Belgium will similarly be pleased with the completion of the wind farm, as it will receive approximately 7% of its targeted renewable energy commitment from the Thornton Bank wind farm, and help avoid approximately 415,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions per year (“compared to a traditional gas-fueled power plant”). The project is estimated to have cost approximately 153 million Euros, but that will be considered a small price to pay given its hoped-for impact.

The Thornton Bank wind farm made history back in May of 2012 when it installed the world’s first 6 MW offshore wind turbine in the second batch of wind turbines.

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  • Wayne Williamson

    It seems like the main gist of the video is a single large structure that is the point where all the energy from the turbines run through(I think). Granted for such along run(35km) maybe thats the reason. Just doesn’t seem like good engineering having a single point of failure….

  • Steeple
    • Bob_Wallace

      It’s the taxes, not
      the renewable energy supplements that create high German electricity
      costs. High electricity prices were around long before renewables and
      closing nuclear came on the scene.

      In 2012 solar lowered the cost of wholesale electricity by 5 billion euros.

      Had renewables not been on line the cost of electricity would have risen higher based on the cost of fossil fuels.

      Here’s what is happening to the wholesale and industrial price of electricity in Germany. Those savings are not being passed on to retail customers. Changes are in place to turn that problem around and retail prices should start dropping in the next year.

    • sault
  • Ivor O’Connor

    These high voltage submarine cables are interesting. Does anybody have the specs to them? Currently I don’t know how they work, how they connect, what type of problems they are likely to encounter. What type of maintenance schedules. Can more wind turbines be added to the cables.

    It seems there was something along these lines that has or was going to be put in place off the east coast. A HVDC cable running in the ocean acting as a backbone for future RE growth. I wonder how that relates to this…

  • Frederik

    According to De Morgen ( the cost is in fact 1,3 billion euros rather than 153 million. I’m not complaining, however, I it is probably an acceptable price for such a large-scale green energy project.
    The only thing that is unfortunate, is that the windmills off the Belgian coast could have been placed closer to the coast line, which would have been cheaper, and that it was decided not to do this because of people complaining that it would ruin their view. As if fighting climate change is not more important than that.

    • Bob_Wallace

      I wonder if the 153 million was for the cable?

      It would be interesting to see how much extra it cost due to placing the farm further offshore. I’m sure the same issues are going to arise here in the US. Especially with Great Lakes wind farms.

      A bit more travel time to the construction site and a bit more cable. Probably a bit larger diameter cable to keep line losses acceptable. Most routine maintenance will probably be done by helicopter so the extra travel distance won’t add much.

      • sault

        The main cost difference would be the deeper water farther out in the ocean unless there is a small underwater ridge under the wind farm. Deeper water means harder turbine installation and increased design requirements of the tower.

      • Bill_Woods

        EUR 153 million is the cost of the 30-MW, 6-turbine Phase 1.
        Phase 2: EUR 812.5M for 184.5 MW (30 turbines).
        Phase 3: EUR 487.5M for 110.7 MW (18 turbines).
        Total: EUR 1453M for 325.2 MW (54 turbines, in 12-28 m deep water)
        = 4.47 EUR/W ~= 5.8 USD/W(capacity) ~= 15 USD/W(average)

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