One thousand megawatt planned

German utility E.on says it is firming up plans to build about 200 wind turbines off the Baltic coast of Sweden in an area known as Södra Midsjöbanken. "We've been interested in this area for a while," says Teresa Mattison, E.on Wind's head of strategy in Malmö. "We think now is the time to start work."

The 1000 MW facility is slated to generate nearly 3000 GWh a year when it goes online some time in 2012. The company is not disclosing the wind project's price tag, but Matthias Rapp of the Swedish Wind Investors & Developers Association estimates it to be SEK 15-20 billion SEK (EUR 1.5-2 billion).

Södra Midsjöbanken, which lies about 50 kilometres southeast of the Swedish island of Öland, has strong winds and the turbines will not be visible from land, says E.on. While Midsjöbanken is known to be a marine bird habitat, Mattison says the bulk of bird concentrations are to the north of the proposed development.

E.on says it will use technical competence learned from its two other planned offshore Baltic projects, Kårehamn and Utgrunden II, to help construct Södra Midsjöbanken. Utgrunden II has received both building and environmental permits from the Swedish government, as well as SEK 70 million (EUR 7.2 million) in grants from the Swedish Energy Agency. E.on will select a turbine supplier for Utgrunden early in 2006 with a view to construction later in the year and completion and operation in 2007.

Mattison admits that rising costs of offshore turbines and their installation could jeopardise Södra Midsjöbanken, but hopes that time will smooth out financial uncertainties. "Because the actual construction is still four to five years in the future, we're hoping by then the supply side will be more stable," she says. Sweden would also need to extend its current market structure for wind power, based on a mandate for submission of green power certificates. The next step for the project is a grid connection study E.on hopes to complete in the first quarter of 2006.

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