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Germany

Germany

Last concession granted for test site -- Not many offshore turbines

The last of four sites available at Germany's onshore testfield for offshore wind turbines is to be filled by a second Repower 5 MW turbine. The Offshore and Certification Centre (OCC), located near the port of Cuxhaven, is owned by Deutsches Wind-Energie Institut (DEWI)) and the municipality of Cuxhaven. Concessions for the sites were put up for bidding last year.

The second Repower machine is to be installed at the end of the year by a utility partnership of E.ON Energy Projects and Winkra, a German wind project subsidiary of Dutch utility Essent. The partnership is sharing one concession. While E.ON describes the partnership as "coincidence," the two companies are developing neighbouring offshore projects in the German North Sea, which are to share a cable route to shore. Construction of E.ON's project, the 400 MW Amrumbank West development, is unlikely to begin before 2010, but Winkra hopes it might start work on its 80 turbine (400 MW) Nordsee Ost project by 2008. "The bottleneck is the turbine technology, which has to be tested," says Winkra.

The first Repower 5 MW turbine booked for DEWI-OCC was bought by regional utility EWE, which has two concessions. It has already put an Enercon 6 MW turbine on its second site. "The utilities are keen not to let the offshore market pass them by," says Repower's Thomas Schnorrenberg.

On land, the all-dominant German utilities are facing the reality that they have missed the wind power boat: independent wind station operators have already conquered 6.2% of the electricity market. According to German network association Verband der Netzbetreiber, a combination of onshore and offshore wind will be supplying about 12% of German electricity by 2011. The utilities are clearly eager not to let the private wind sector also walk off with the offshore market.

Utility dominance of the DEWI-OCC site is not total, however. Local company Plambeck Neue Energien, an independent wind developer based in Cuxhaven, has been conceded the fourth site. At the end of last year it was still considering which turbine to test.

Its choice is limited. DEWI-OCC will only accept large prototypes intended for offshore use. Apart from Enercon and Repower, only Multibrid has a 5 MW machine ready for testing now that Vestas has put its 4.5 MW machine on hold (Windpower Monthly, December 2005).

Multibrid, part of the Prokon Nord group, commissioned its first 5 MW prototype in Bremerhaven in December 2004 and plans three more Multibrids, also at Bremerhaven, in 2006 with plans to install the first units offshore in 2007. Prokon has jointly won a concession for the first offshore wind farm to be built in French waters (Windpower Monthly, October 2005). It remains to be seen whether Plambeck picks Multibrid for its test site.

With series production of the Vestas 4.5 MW machine postponed until 2009, the company seems to be out of the running in the German offshore market, where only really large turbines are being considered for the relatively distant sites available. As recently as August, DEWI-OCC had reported that the E.ON/Winkra partnership, dubbed Energy Wind Converter, had favoured using a Vestas 4.5 MW machine.

Originally five test sites were planned, with GE Energy apparently in the running for a concession. But the number was cut to four due to noise considerations. The DEWI-OCC site is waiting for a new transformer station to be built before the two Repower machines and the Multibrid at can be connected, probably at the end of the year. The Enercon 6 MW unit is using a provisional grid connection.

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