When on 13 December last year the CEZ Group’s 600 MW Fantanele-Cogealac wind park entered full operation, it had the effect of multiplying Romania’s total wind capacity by a factor of 40 in a single leap, and served notice that the country intended to take its place among Europe’s serious players. The project’s generation site consists of 240 GE 2.5 MW wind turbines, a total that includes the 1000th 2.5 MW class machine installed by GE worldwide. The project represented a huge advance for renewables generation in Romania, which before the completion of this wind farm had only 14 MW connected to the grid. And with completion, CEZ Romania, part of CEZ Group, the largest utility in Central Europe, achieved a 40% share of the local market of green certificates. The total project investment by the CEZ Group was € 1.1 billion.
The Fantanele wind park is located on an unusual site – it is in Dobrogea, in the province of Dobrudja, 17 km from the Black Sea and one of the most promising wind power provinces in Romania, the whole region being one of the two windiest areas in Europe. It is not hugely surprising then that it was chosen to contain a farm of 600 MW capacity, one that surpasses by some distance the former European record holder, the 539 MW Whitelee site in Scotland.
The 240 wind turbines have been installed on an area 12 by 6 km. Each of the wtgs is 100 metres high, with a rotor diameter of 99 m. The final unit was connected to the regional grid on 22 November, at which point it entered the final trial operation phase, the confirming of all wind turbine parameters and performance.
The GE 2.5 machine, which features larger rotors, higher towers and greater hub heights than previous models in the series, is said to offer high efficiency and reliability for a broad range of wind conditions, resulting in greater power output. Earlier this year, GE’s fleet of 2.5 MW series wtgs exceeded 2 GW of installed capacity around the world, including 14 countries in Europe, and has achieved more than 7 million hours of commercial operation.
The CEZ Group is planning to use its experience in building the Fantanele project for its planned Eco-Wind project in Poland. In line with its new strategy, announced in December 2011, CEZ has acquired a majority stake in a Polish wind park developer, Eco-Wind Construction Poland, which has a portfolio of fifteen projects in various phases of implementation with a total planned capacity of some 700 MW. CEZ has also been looking into other opportunities for investing in renewable sources of power abroad.
Turbine production
The individual wind turbine components were produced all over the world. The turbine nacelles were supplied from GE’s facility in Salzbergen, Germany. The rotor blades and towers came from Germany, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Poland and China. The size of the components – an individual rotor blade measures nearly 50 m in length – and the number of units, required comprehensive planning. Twelve modes of transportation were needed to move all of the components for each wind turbine from the port of Constanta on the Black Sea to the project construction site. At peak times, 25 cranes were in action at once on one of the largest building sites in Europe.
The final wind turbine entered operation in November 2012, two and a half years after the first entered service in June 2010. In that two and a half years the facility has generated 1.646 TWh of electrical energy.
‘This wind park is one of our best investments and also one of the most significant projects of its kind on a global scale,’ says Tomáš Pleskac, director of CEZ’s Distribution and Foreign Assets division.

The Fantanele timeline
The CEZ Group acquired the project from Continental Wind Partners LLC in August 2008. On 1 June 2010 the first of a projected total of 240 wind turbines was commissioned. The plan for the project’s initial phase involved 139 turbines in a piecemeal pattern of connection to the grid depending on the results of performance testing and climatic conditions at the location. The second phase of the project (101 turbines) was to be commissioned one year later.
A few days previously the main substation had been connected to the electrical grid by the Romanian TSO Transelectrica and shortly after that the first of four 110/33 kV transformer stations was commissioned. Following co-ordinated testing by GE, CEZ and Transelectrica, the first turbine in the project was able to supply power to the network.
On 11 October 2012 CEZ connected the 216th wind turbine to the grid, thanks to which Fantanele-Cogealac, with an installed capacity of 540 MW, surpassed the 539 MW Whitelee in Scotland, and became the largest onshore wind farm in Europe. At this stage turbines were being connected to the grid every day, on schedule for all 240 to be up and running by the end of 2012.
By 22 Nov 2012 the last wind turbine was connected up and a programme of final turbine testing was begun. By December 2012 the site was fully operational and supplying power to the Romanian grid its full capacity.