The first of ten turbines of the Beleolico offshore wind farm, the first in Mediterranean waters, has been installed. It is a fixed foundation wind turbine with a capacity of 3 MW, positioned in the roadstead off the port of Taranto, about 100 metres from the coast. To be precise, the facility is more likely to be classified as nearshore but, terminology aside, this is a decisive moment for exploitation of wind energy in the Mediterranean Sea. When fully operational, the plant will consist of ten turbines with a total capacity of 30 MW, able to produce over 58,000 MWh, equal to the annual energy needs of 60,000 people. In environmental terms, this means that it will save around 730,000 tonnes of CO2 during its planned 25-year life.
The installation of the first Beleolico turbine was announced by Renexia, a Toto Group company operating in Italy and the United States in the field of renewable energy. The process of obtaining the go-ahead for construction of the plant was anything but straightforward. In fact, although presented in 2008, the project only obtained a positive opinion from the Ministry of the Environment for the environmental impact and strategic environmental assessments in July 2012, in conflict with the negative opinion expressed at the time by the Apulia Region and the Superintendency of Landscape Assets. The city council was also opposed to the plant and appealed to the Regional Administrative Court in Lecce, requesting cancellation of the only authorisation granted for the project. However, the appeal was rejected, first by Apulia’s Regional Administrative Court and then by the Council of State in 2015. The project is now finally under way with the completion of the wind turbine assembly phases, operations supported by Van Oord’s MPI Resolution construction vessel. During the 25-year concession period allocated to the project, the company is committed to working to ensure that any activities linked to the wind park will also bring economic benefits to the area.