Speeding up development

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Concerned about Germany's lack of progress in offshore wind development, the federal environment ministry has contributed EUR 5 million in research funds to set up an offshore wind turbine test site. The institution goes by the catchy name of Stiftung der deutschen Wirtschaft für die verbesserte Nutzung und Erforschung der Windenergie auf See, or "German industry foundation for improved use of and research into wind energy at sea."

The foundation is buying the project rights to the Borkum-West offshore project in the German North Sea from the project's sponsor, Prokon Nord. The site has permits for 12, 5 MW turbines in 2007.

Among the foundation members are German wind turbine makers Enercon, Multibrid (owned by Prokon) and Repower. Each will each supply four 5 MW turbines to the test station. Other members include major German energy companies E.on, EWE and Vattenfall, maritime companies, wind energy associations, banks, insurance companies and construction firms.

E.on Energy Projects and EWE have expressed interest in operating and leasing the station, the environment ministry reports. The foundation plans to found a scientific committee composed of representative from both private and state-owned companies and institutes. Industry will invest EUR 150 million in the offshore test field and the companies involved will carry the commercial risk, says the ministry.

Meantime Enercon has decided that 5 MW is not big enough. In August it began installation of its first 6 MW unit at the Offshore and Certification Centre (OCC) at Cuxhaven port, run by Deutsches Windenergie-Institut (DEWI). Commissioning of the machine is scheduled for the end of the year. Annual output is forecast at 15 GWh.

The OCC test field gathers data onshore, but under maritime conditions and mainly for use by the offshore wind industry. While space is available for four machines, only the Enercon 6 MW machine will be installed this year. It is the company's sixth prototype developed from the original 4.5 MW Enercon turbine installed at Magdeburg in 2002.

DEWI, the city of Cuxhaven and the district of Cuxhaven founded the OCC in July 2003.

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