Jul 18 2016

Northwind Wind Farm

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I see the world benefiting from wind power in the future, not only because of the possibility that wind could power 100 percent of US power (Prentiss, 2015), but also because of the success that other countries have with wind power. One example of an offshore wind farm at work in the world is Northwind off the coast of Belgium.

North wind

Figure 1

The Northwind offshore wind farm includes 72 MW wind turbines. This wind farm is one of the many farms that have been permitted and installed on the Belgium coast line. In Figure 1, you will see the plans for a large wind farm area established in 2004, the country is working its way into the windy world by allowing different developers opportunities to expand in their windmill zone. This principle works much like a neighborhood block, in which different residences purchase the land they build their homes. Northwind is built 38 miles from the shore, mostly out of the viewing area of the coastal inhabitants. There are a total of five projects in this portion of the North Sea: C-Power, Belwind, Norther and Rentel.

The idea that the world could use a natural system as its self-efficient power is something that comes with challenges. As Prentiss states in her chapter on Electricity from Wind on page 93, “Unsurprisingly, the power generated by a wind turbine depends not only on the wind but on the properties of the turbine itself, the most important of which is that the power increases with the square of the rotor length.” The capacity of the wind turbines is something that still puzzles scientists today, and in my view is one of the main hindrances from global expansion.

While most of the world is debating the benefits of the wind power, European Union had 1,371 offshore wind turbines fully grid-connected in European waters, totaling 3.8 GW (European Wind Energy Association, 2011). The Belgium government by Royal Decree in 2004 has dedicated a windmill zone encompassing almost 7% of the waters under its power for wind farming. Since a few of the installations took place before Northwind, the Royal Belgian Institute of Natural Sciences and the Management Unit of the North Sea Mathematical Models have completed reports annually from 2009-2012. Many of the studies were completed with financial assistance from the companies and government agencies in order to better understand the environmental effects of the projects in the North Sea.

The economic support of the Northwind project secured €350m ($463m) from risk sharing finance facility (RSFF) of the European Commission and the European Investment Bank and additional assets totaling €883m ($1.17bn). The one-billion-dollar project will install 72 MW turbines generating up to 216MW of power. This new V112-3.0 MW three-bladed model will hopefully raise efficiency. “The unique new blade profile, complemented by the nacelle design and cooling-system, delivers more power from less weight.” (Kable , 2016) The turbines height is 127 meters from the monopile. (4C Offshore , 2014) The monopiles in the sea bed are 5 meters in diameter and can create a habitat for mussels, and crustaceans. (Figure 2) Northwind has been fully commissioned since 2014. Belgium was powered by wind on the best day at 12% of total power. The windmill area could supply up to 150,000 households with electricity.

With continued support from the developers and agencies, MUMM hopes to continue their efforts of understanding the effects of marine energy developments on biological, as well as socio-economic aspects of the marine environment.

Nortwind map

Figure 2





















4C Offshore . (2014, June ). NorthWind . Retrieved from 4C Offshore : http://www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/northwind-belgium-be02.html

Kable . (2016). Northwind Offshore Wind Farm, Bank Zonder Naam, Belgium. Retrieved from Renewable Technology : http://www.renewable-technology.com/projects/northwind-offshore-wind-farm-north-sea/

Prentiss, M. (2015). Energy Revolution. Cambridge : The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.

Steven Degraer, R. B. (2012). Offshore Wind Farms in the Belgain part of the North Sea . Retrieved from MUMM: http://www.mumm.ac.be/Downloads/News/winmon_report%202012_cor.pdf

European Wind Energy Association. (2011). The European offshore wind industry – key 2011 trends

and statistics. [online] Available at: <http://www.ewea.org/index.php?id=1861>