Off the Rostock coast

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The small municipality of Graal-Müritz on the shores of the Baltic sea holds the future of Germany's first off-shore wind power station in its hands. The Rostock regional government will only allow siting of up to 180 turbines in the coastal waters if Graal-Müritz parishioners agree. The area is a popular tourist and health cure resort and the local council is anxious that nothing be allowed to mire these attractions.

The project was initiated by the Rostock environment senator, Michael Kreuzberg, who commissioned a pre-feasibility study from Hamburg-based Gosslich. Completed last February, the study recommended a three square kilometre area offshore from Graal-Müritz, where water depth ranges between five and nine metres. The Gosslich study suggested up to 180 turbines could be installed. Presuming the use of 1 MW machines, the plant would supply 180 MW nominal capacity or around 500 GWh a year.

Both Rostock and the State of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern would each like to develop the project, but have no money for such a venture. Rostock is now passing the task on to industrial investors. Thyssen Rheinstahl Technik of Düsseldorf, which markets Nordtank turbines from Denmark, has said it is willing to finance the whole project, but the Rostock Environment Office is not yet prepared to close the door on other options. Holger Matthäus from the Rostock Environment Office is now awaiting agreement from Graal-Müritz before setting up a project development company and probably offering shares in it on the open market. Reports in the Danish press that Danish company, Christensen, Nielson and Partner is to develop the project are not true, he adds.

Of the many aspects of the project yet to be decided is the matter of who will pay for the electricity produced. Under Germany's Electricity Feed Law, wind power is paid for at 90 % of the consumer price of electricity, averaging DEM 0.16/kWh over the country. Regional utility, Hevag, could not possibly pay alone for the 500 GWh produced each year. An arrangement must be found where the burden is spread right across Germany, stresses Matthäus.

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