Shell plans offshore wind plants

Shell Solar is examining six potential wind farm sites off the coasts of Germany, Denmark, France, Netherlands, Scandinavia and the UK, says Jim Dawson, the company's chief executive. He expects that between one and three projects will be developed. According to Frithjof CM Kublik, vice president of Shell Solar in Hamburg, the first project will hopefully be installed off the Scottish or French coasts at the end of 2000 or in 2001. Both men were speaking last month at the inauguration of a solar cell factory at Gelsenkirchen in Germany.

In order to gain experience in wind power, Shell Solar, a subsidiary of oil and chemicals giant Royal Dutch/Shell, is installing two Enercon 1.5 MW turbines on 100 metre towers on the site of its Hamburg-Harburg oil refinery in the first quarter of 2000. The electricity generated will be fed into the grid of local utility HEW and marketed under the joint Shell/HEW marketing scheme for renewables power, dubbed NewPower.

Shell is not planning further wind installations at any of its other refineries, according to Kublik. Rather it hopes to gain experience with turbines of 1.5 MW size on the way to its real target, offshore wind development. The turbines used in the planned offshore wind farms will not necessarily be from Enercon, he says.

Shell's interest in offshore wind partly stems from its competence in subsea cabling, remote maintenance and offshore structures in difficult maritime environments, says Dawson.