The last of Belgium's seven offshore zones has been awarded to THV Mermaid, a consortium comprising Otary Plc and GDF Suez. The concession allows Mermaid to pursue development of an offshore wind farm with a maximum generating capacity of 462MW.
The project represents GDF Suez’s first success in the offshore wind market, and follows the French giant’s failure to secure development rights during France’s first offshore wind tender. GDF Suez holds a 35% stake in the project and will be involved via its subsidiary, Electrabel.
Otary holds a majority stake of 65% and is already involved in two other Belgian offshore wind projects: Rentel and Seastar. It is itself a joint venture featuring a host of leading names from Belgium's business community:
- renewable energy developers Electrawinds and Aspiravi
- dredging group and hydraulic engineering specialist DEME
- investment and development companies Rent-A-Port and Power@Sea
- Walloon government-backed environmental investment agency SRIW Environnement
- and Belgian utilities Nuhma and Socofe.
The project will be located within a wind development zone further from Belgium's shore than the country's other offshore projects, about 50km off Zeebrugge. The site’s water depths range from 23-25m.
No decision has yet been made about which turbines will power the project, although a preference for large machines may be detected in Electrabel’s statement: the project will "give priority to the most innovative turbines available at the time the park is constructed ... to achieve the greatest possible energy production on the available surface."
If all goes to plan, first power could be achieved in 2016, with full commissioning by the end of 2017.
The project also includes deployment of wave energy converters with an installed capacity of around 20MW.
The other consortium that bid for the concession featured Colruyt Group, TPF, the Transcor Astra Group, InControl and Wagram Invest.