Vattenfall, the Swedish state-owned energy utility, is seeking approval to build a 17.5 MW offshore wind farm in the southern Kalmar Sound in the Baltic Sea. The five turbines, reaching 70 metres above sea level, will generate around 55 GWh of electricity a year, equivalent to the needs of 10,000 homes. If approved, the project is likely to be one of the biggest of its kind in Sweden. Vattenfall currently operates 41 dispersed wind power plants, all of them onshore. The company says the Kalmar Sound project is part of a drive to "increase knowledge about the environmental and commercial possibilities for sea-based wind power." Vattenfall stresses the importance of securing local approval for the project, stating that it has canvassed 1280 households in two surveys. According to Vattenfall, 73% of respondents to the second survey expressed support for the initiative. A recent flood of offshore wind applications has raised hackles among some interest groups in Sweden -- notably environmentalists and fishermen -- amid fears that turbines may negatively affect the marine environment. Vattenfall's Jan Norling, however, says the turbines will be sited farther offshore and in deeper water than is currently the norm in an attempt to minimise the aesthetic impact as well as any adverse effect on fisheries. The municipal council of Karlskrona, which is to consider Vattenfall's application, has already earmarked the southern Kalmar Sound area -- between the mainland and the Baltic island of Öland -- for offshore wind development. A number of turbines have already been erected in the area.
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