Hochtief ODS fights for far-shore wind

German developer calls for re-evaluation

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Hochtief Offshore Development Solutions is calling for a re-evaluation of the assumptions made in the offshore transmission network plan for the German North Sea, Bundesfachplan Offshore 2012 (BFP-offshore 2012). The plan disadvantages its six planned far-shore projects.

BFP-offshore 2012 was completed and published in February 2013. But the company has the chance to argue its case in the consultation now underway, on the draft offshore network development plan, O-NEP 2013.

BFP-offshore 2012 concluded that projects lying far outside the offshore wind priority areas –those more than 120km from shore – would not be prioritised for further development. This was a blow for Hochtief ODS' projects, all of which are planned for sites around 200km from shore.

Reasons cited included the higher costs for installation, cable laying and maintenance at far from shore sites. The need for helicopter filling stations and accommodation platforms with a sick bay were also noted.

"These points contradict German energy industry act requirements that electricity supply should be as secure, reasonably-priced, consumer-friendly, efficient and environmentally-compatible as possible" BFP-offshore 2012 stated.

Further, 13 project clusters relevant for transmission cable planning to 2030 were identified. Clusters 1-8 totalling 11.9GW were identified for the planning horizon to 2022, the rest for the planning horizon to 2030.

But Hochtief ODS' HTOD 5 project (formerly known as Nautilus 2) and PNE Wind's neighbouring Nautilus 1 project are in cluster 14. It has been identified for a post-2030 planning horizon, even though planning for the two projects is more advanced than for some nearer-shore projects.

"The assumption is that far-shore wind projects are more expensive and less economic than projects nearer to shore, but this is not the case. We would not have bought our projects if we weren't convinced of their feasibility," Erol Erdem, managing director of Hochtief ODS told Windpower Offshore today.

"The additional costs are easily compensated by the improved electricity output of far-shore stations that don't lie in the wind-shadow of other projects. We expect 10-12% more than the full load hours per year expected from projects located in the zones closer to shore."

He added: "We have demonstrated in expert reports that the specific costs per MWh for our projects are comparable with those of offshore projects currently being implemented closer to shore in the German North Sea. As more projects are built, wind-shadow will have an increasingly negative effect, especially for those sited further east in the North Sea."

But all is not lost for Hochtief ODS. HTOD 5 and Nautilus 2 are at least described in BFP-offshore 2012 as projects that are "under special observation," as their environmental impact studies have already been presented to the permitting authority, the Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH).

They could be pulled back into play, the document states, though a proviso was added: "Future evaluations will also depend on the question as to whether the theory of a higher wind energy output can be validated with data measured with a standard measuring mast."

Hochtief ODS expects to lodge applications for construction permits for its HTOD 1 and 2 projects this year. The application for HTOD 5 (formerly known as Nautilus 2) was placed with BSH in early 2012. The applications for the other projects will follow "later, the aim being to schedule the projects one after another," Erdem confirmed.

Hochtief ODS announced the acquisition of the North Sea Windpower 4-7 (NSWP 4-7) projects from Enova in March 2012 and renamed them HTOD 1-4. Hochtief ODS was established as a 50:50 joint venture between Hochtief Solutions und Ventizz Capital Partners in February 2012. Ventizz brought in its Nautilus 2 project, which was renamed HTOD 5.

HTOD 1-5 are slated to have 81, 85, 84, 95 and 80 turbines respectively. HTOD 6 is at the early stages of being developed and is expected to feature 64 turbines.

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