Major extension of Swedish flagship -- EDF behind 75 MW

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Plans to expand the Utgrunden wind station off the Swedish island of Öland have been unveiled by Airicole AB, the Swedish affiliate of French national utility Electricité de France (EDF) and its renewables subsidiary Siif Energies. Airicole says it will install 20, 3.5 MW turbines in 2004 and a further four 5 MW the following year. They will join seven 1.5 MW units from GE Wind, installed in 2000, as the first megawatt scale technology to be operated offshore. Utgrunden II is a part of a large-scale strategy to eventually develop a 300 MW plant on Midsjöbanken.

The new installation, about 10.5 kilometres off Bergkvara on the Swedish mainland, will provide a 20 turbine commercial platform plus four state-of-the-art test machines to act as a base for the next generation of projects, according to Airicole's Mikael Jakobsson. With a court permit expected by the end of the year, construction of the machines is slated to begin next year, with a target electricity production of some 240 GWh a year.

The idea behind splitting the project into two is to commercially build on existing experience, says Jakobsson. "The 3.5 MW machines are the next step up from the 1.5 MW at Utgrunden I, and we will make four more sites available for the future generation machines. These will split into two, with probably two major manufacturers taking one half and two smaller companies controlling the others. This will facilitate a platform for studies on which will be the best way to move forward.

"With dual transformer strategy on land, downtime will be minimised and we can switch from one to the other, according to how high the wind is. Similarly, if one needs to be shut down for maintenance, we can just switch across, optimising capacity and cutting costs."

Flexibility is the key, he states, adding that the company can alter machine size from 2 to 5 MW, install from 14 to 24 turbines and stagger installation to reach highest cost efficiency environmental requirements.

On ice

Airicole's Swedish activities have mainly been focused at Utgrunden and around the Midsjöbanken area, to the south-east of Öland and stretching towards Poland. The company also has a project further south, off the coast of Skåne, which has been put on ice after an unfavourable public referendum in the municipality of Skurup. In contrast, support and a creative relationship has been built up with the regional county of Kalmar around Utgrunden, which has played a major role in the development of both projects in what is seen by Airicole as an ideal blueprint for the future.

The next step for the project will be the procurement of the technology and a decision on the time frame. The building permit application was submitted last year and providing it is approved, the final budget for the program will determine how and when it progresses.

According to Jakobsson there are three alternatives. All 24 turbines could be installed next year, with the major benefit being six months additional income. Or the project could be split between 2004 and 2005. A third option is to install all the machines over the winter 2004/2005. Utgrunden II represents a major part of Airicole's plans for the future in Sweden. Over 500 MW of offshore wind production is now at the development stage at four different sites.

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