Nearshore rule changes a hammer blow to Thor

Extra environmental impact assessments could delay about 500MW of nearshore Danish wind projects by two-to-three years, according to industry association Wind Denmark.

The up-to 1GW Thor site will be built off the west coast of Denmark

In September, the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) announced transmission system operator Energinet must carry out an environment assessment for prospective projects before their developers can submit final bids for Denmark’s next nearshore wind farm, the 800MW-1GW Thor project.

This will "ensure a legally appropriate process for environmental assessments and permitting", the DEA claimed.

It had previously considered the environmental impact assessment (EIA) for Denmark's most recent nearshore wind farm to be approved — Vattenfall’s Vesterhav Syd project — was not sufficiently detailed, and spent two years processing complaints, Wind Denmark said.

The Thor project will be the first to be awarded under a new permitting process. 

Following a competitive bidding process, the successful developer will have to carry out a final EIA before being granted construction permit, and will also be responsible for the project's substation and transmission link — previously the remit of Energinet.

Wind Denmark’s vice president Camilla Holbech said the new procedure increases risk for developers as it adds more layers to the bidding process and means projects are more likely to be delayed due to complaints.

She added that currently it can take several years to have a complaint processed in the Danish Parliament.

The industry association’s CEO, Jan Hylleberg, added the rule change places an extra burden on developers and could delay about 500MW of projects by "two to three years".

"There is an obvious mismatch between the political ambition and the reality of wind and solar energy providers in Denmark, which directly impacts investor confidence," he said. 

Wind Denmark said seven wind farms are currently being processed under Denmark’s "open door" scheme, in which the developer applies to build a wind farm of a chosen capacity in a specific area.

Thor will be the first of three 800MW projects to be tendered before 2023 and commissioned by 2030, under the Danish government’s energy agreement signed in summer 2018.

However, the ruling Social Democrat party this week announced it wants an additional two large-scale nearshore offshore wind farms online by 2030.

Wind Denmark noted that the government had not yet included additional funds for potential projects in its Finance Bill.

But a government energy spokeswoman told Danish newspaper Berlingske it would find money.

New applications

The Danish Energy Agency also announced it received three applications from developer Wind Estate to start feasibility studies at sites to be developed under the open door scheme.

The three projects would have a combined capacity of up to 1.8GW and would be built in Inner Denmark, east of the mainland.

It is planning to build the 434-720MW Treå Møllebugt project north of Djursland; the 154-228MW Paludan Flak project south of Samsø; and the 504-864MW Kadet Banke project south-east of Mon.