The European Investment Bank today (15 May) agreed to provide €587 million for the world’s largest wind farm to be constructed 85 kilometres north of the Netherlands, at a site not visible from land. Once operational the 600MW Gemini offshore wind farm will supply renewable electricity for more than 1.5 million people, equivalent to the all the inhabitants of the neighbouring Dutch provinces of Friesland, Drenthe and Groningen combined.
“Gemini will make a significant contribution to European renewable energy production and create hundreds of jobs in the Netherlands. The European Investment Bank is pleased to be one of the largest financiers for this landmark project that is both the world’s largest offshore wind farm and largest ever renewable energy project to be backed by project finance. Investment in infrastructure that ensures secure supply of energy to consumers, reduces carbon emissions and reduces costs by using innovative turbines reflects the wider commitment of Europe’s long-term lending institution in the Netherlands,” said European Investment Bank Vice President Pim van Ballekom.
The 150 turbines in the Gemini wind farm will produce the largest amount of renewable energy of any offshore wind farm due to the constant high wind speeds, averaging wind force 5, in the 68 square kilometre construction area and innovative turbines that can operate up to gale force 11. More than 500 people will be employed during the expected three year construction period and around 120 permanently work on maintaining the Gemini wind farm’s turbines during the first 15 years of operation.
The new Dutch project is also the largest renewable energy project in the world to be developed using project finance. The only security provided to the banks and organisations providing loans consists of the project itself and expected revenues. 85% of electricity generated by the Gemini wind farm will be marketed by Dutch energy company Delta.
Use of new turbine technology in the Gemini wind farm will allow operation during higher wind speeds by rotating rotor blades to reduce exposure. The top of the rotor will reach 150m above sea level, higher than the highest office building in Europe. Cables connecting the offshore wind farm to the coast will be buried below the sea bed and environmental measures have been put in place. Overall building costs of the Gemini wind farm are expected to be €2.8 billion. The European Investment Bank will finance the project alongside Northland Power, Danish pension fund PKA and a consortium of international commercial banks.
The European Investment Bank is one of the world’s largest lenders to renewable energy projects. Recent support has included backing for the Noord Oost Polder onshore wind farm and investment by Tennet to improve high voltage connections between wind farms and consumers in the Netherlands and Germany.
Last year the European Investment Bank provided €1.3bn in long-term low-cost loans for key investment in projects in the Netherlands. This engagement covered a range of sectors including education, energy, transport, healthcare and corporate research and development, as well as support or small business investment in cooperation with leading banks.
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