Six pilot projects near decision time -- German permits

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Permit decisions are due for the pilot phases of at least six offshore wind energy projects in the German North Sea this year, all of which lie beyond the 12 sea-mile zone that marks German state or federal authority. At least one project closer to shore may also be permitted this year (table). The six pilot projects are for a combined capacity of around 1680 MW. The largest are two projects at 400 MW each and the smallest is for a minimum of 60 MW.

Just three North Sea projects in German waters have received permits so far: Prokon Nord's 60 MW pilot phase of its 800-1000 MW Borkum project and the Butendiek 240 MW community project, both outside the 12-mile zone. Neither has started construction. A third project, to site an Enercon 4.5 MW turbine in the Jade Estuary, has been approved within the 12 sea-mile zone.

Projects beyond that limit are examined by federal shipping office Bundesamt für Schifffahrt und Hydrologie (BSH) while projects slated for sites within the zone fall under the jurisdiction of the nearest federal state. Currently, the BSH will only authorise pilot projects of up to 80 turbines. Most of the developers also have plans for projects of 800-4000 MW requiring hundreds of turbines.

pilot phases

BSH says 30 offshore projects have been pitched in the regions for which it is responsible, of which 24 lie in the North Sea and six in the Baltic Sea. The pilot phases comprise 2045 turbines in all. Following a site permit from the BSH, the projects must still get authorisation for the cable route to shore, involving the BSH and the local state authority, and a permit from the shipping police under waterways law.

Most German offshore developments in the North Sea are forced well north of the mainland to avoid the Wattenmeer coastal nature protection area, a string of islands that run down the coastline about 25 kilometres from shore.

All North Sea projects for which applications have been lodged with BSH are located at least 45 kilometres from the mainland. Among those located farthest from shore is Projekt's Sandbank 24, which is sited 120 kilometres west of the island of Sylt, or about 145 kilometres from the mainland.

There are several other, mostly smaller, projects being developed within the 12 sea-mile zone. At least four projects planned in the Baltic Sea are pitched for locations between 25-40 kilometres north of the island of Rügen. A strip of water less than ten kilometres wide separates the island from the German mainland.

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