WPD frustrated by Swedish energy policy paralysis

Uncertain future for 265MW Storgundet project

Projects being developed by the Swedish subsidiary of German offshore wind developer, WPD, are in limbo thanks to the failure of the country’s electricity network operator to make decisions about grid connection.

In particular, WPD’s 265MW Storgrundet project is at risk, despite being fully permitted and ready to proceed to construction.

WPD is calling on the Swedish government to prioritise offshore wind and to ensure that transmission system operator (TSO), Svenska Kraftnät, clarifies which projects will be grid connected.

In a recent analysis of its priorities, Svenska Kraftnät argues that it cannot distinguish between wind projects backed by reliable companies, which are likely to be built, and those that will only ever be dreams on a drawing board.  

This argument does not sit well with WPD, whose portfolio of completed wind projects amounts to more than 2GW and which is currently developing offshore wind farms in Germany and France.

The Storgrundet project has been subject to three years of meteorological measurements and an ongoing programme of geotechnical survey. WPD plans to tender for major supply contracts next year, in preparation for a 2016 construction start.

"We hope for full operation in 2018 and have already applied for connection - everything hinges on Svenska Kraftnät’s cooperation," said WPD Offshore’s Sweden’s managing director, Göran Dalén, speaking with Windpower Offshore.

Grid access problems prompted WPD to place another of its projects, 660MW Klocktärnan, "on ice". A third offshore wind farm, the 1GW Finngrunden, is tied up in court proceedings, after being rejected by local authorities. "We believe we will prevail in the environmental court and receive a permit eventually," said Dalén.

In a bid to make progress, WPD has even proposed a 700km undersea cable high voltage DC cable to connect northern offshore wind farms with the Stockholm area. The company now believes the cable isn’t economically viable, since Svenska Kraftnät is considering options to strengthen north-south onshore transmission.

The subtext to all discussions about offshore wind in Swedish waters is the question of whether the country needs such additional electricity generating capacity. With large volumes of cheap hydropower available and plans – yet to be approved – for new nuclear power reactors, many argue there is no need for offshore wind.

Dalén is not convinced. "Nuclear power may turn out to be more expensive and less punctual than the authorities believe, so renewable energy should be aided instead of obstructed," he argues.

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