The European Investment Bank (EIB) will support the construction of the Norther wind farm off the Belgian coast with a loan of EUR 438 million. Half of this amount will be guaranteed under the European Fund for Strategic Investments (EFSI), the heart of the Juncker Commission’s Investment Plan for Europe.
Norther is the third wind project off the Belgian coast to be supported under the EFSI. Upon completion, its 44 wind turbines will deliver an estimated 352 MW*, enough to supply renewably generated electricity to around 324,000 Belgian families. The wind farm will cut about 593000 tons of CO2-equivalent greenhouse emissions per year.
Construction is set to begin in the spring of next year and is expected to be operational in summer 2019. The project is expected to create 2,530 person-years in employment, during the construction phase. It is expected to create further 16 full-time positions once operational. The total cost of the project is estimated to be EUR 1.1 billion, of which the EIB would provide nearly 40%. The project will use one of the largest offshore wind turbines in the world, with a rated capacity of 8 MW, which can be increased by 5% if wind conditions allow for it.
EIB Vice-President Pim van Ballekom commented: “Renewables are a long-term goal for the EIB and this signature shows that Belgium is serious about making the shift away from carbon-based energy production. In the last 5 years the EIB has invested over EUR 880 million in wind energy projects in Belgium to ensure a safe, affordable and diversified supply for a large portion of the Belgian population. Thanks to the backing under EFSI, the Bank can take on more of these projects, which create jobs while helping to support the energy switch.”
Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič, responsible for Energy Union, said: “Today’s agreement demonstrates how the EFSI can act to boost investment while also helping to ensure that Europe has secure, affordable and climate-friendly energy sources. I believe that the Investment Plan will continue to make a substantial contribution towards Europe’s transition to a becoming a secure, competitive and low-carbon economy in the years ahead.”