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Baltic Sea project grows and grows -- Kriegers I, II, and now III

Wind project developer WPD Scandinavia AB, which originally designed the Swedish side of the Krieger's Flak offshore project before extending a second phase into German waters, is looking to build a third section of the planned power station, this time stretching into the Danish Baltic Sea. Kriegers Flak is planned for a triangle-shaped area where the territorial waters of Denmark, Germany and Sweden meet.

WPD sold rights to the Swedish portion to Vattenfall in May 2005, but retained the German portion. The new Danish wedge is planned for of 91, 5 MW turbines, WPD says. Added to the 80 turbine, 400 MW plans for the German side and Vattenfall's 128-turbine, 640 MW plans for Sweden, the combined capacity of the three projects is now 1.5 GW.

Though working with three separate countries complicates logistics, WPD's Achim Berge says it is a good way of "splitting your risk." The German side is fully permitted, both for building and for onshore land use and cabling. The Swedish Kriegers section has its building permits, with cabling permits soon expected. WPD says it is hopeful its Danish applications might be approved by the end of this year or early 2007.

Meantime, WPD is working on another offshore Baltic project. Known as Finngrunden, after the area of relatively shallow water picked for the site, the project is planned for up to 210 turbines in two groups, one of about 130 turbines and the other of 80, with an estimated capacity of nearly 1050 MW. Plans are for installation to start in 2010.

WPD's Berge says he is unconcerned about the rising prices of offshore wind plant. "It's a problem for the market as only the best projects will be built. We think we have one of those," Berge says. "But we're still three years away from financing. It will depend mostly on the US market -- change the tax credit and the entire market could swing back to Europe."

Finngrunden first has to win siting approval. While the proposed site is within an area designated for offshore wind development by the Swedish Energy Authority, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) says it wants to keep a piece of Finngrunden free from development, Berge says. EPA's resistance to turbines on Finngrunden's eastern bank is not due to environmental concerns per se, Berge says, but rather to maintain a "reference area" for which the agency has already collected extensive marine and environmental data. Berge's quest is to convince EPA officials to move their reference area somewhere nearby and let Finngrunden proceed. "They are very open-minded," he says. "We just might convince them, or they just might convince us." Applications for building approval will be submitted early in 2007.

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