Battle starts for ownership rights

Debate continues in Denmark over who will have the development rights to five 150 MW offshore wind farms, plans for which were officially unveiled at an international World Wildlife Fund conference in Washington by Danish energy minister Svend Auken. He presented the ten year, 750 MW plan as Denmark's "gift to the world."

To date the two utility umbrella organisations in Denmark, Elsam and Elkraft, have pressed for the rights to build the offshore sites (Windpower Monthly, July 1997). But Auken's announcement brought political pressure from both left and right wing parties in Denmark to revise ownership and grid connection regulations for offshore projects, giving private citizens -- and not only the utilities -- the right to invest offshore.

The Danish wind turbine owners association claims the utilities will earn money on offshore power before it is even generated -- they could give away the electricity and still make money. The association points out that the utilities are to be allowed to pass on 75% of the investment costs to electricity consumers before the machines are built; at the same time, this sum can also be written off by the utilities as an investment. But this fancy financial footwork might not be allowed in the EU's new electricity Directive, which goes into effect in 1999, adds the association.

It says offshore production costs from the proposed wind farms will be around $0.012/kWh, with the utilities receiving a government CO2 subsidy of $0.015/kWh, giving a $0.03/kWh profit before the blades are even rotating. Auken has called for an assessment of this subsidy "to see whether we can use this money more effectively than we have in the past," with particular attention to the differences in land and sea based wind plant.

The five offshore wind farms, each to consist of 100, 1.5 MW turbines, are planned for sites off the Danish west coast near Esbjerg and in Denmark's inland waters (Windpower Monthly, July 1997). The first is planned to be operating by 2001, with the other following at 18 month periods. The official political goal is 1500 MW of wind power in Denmark on land and 4000 MW at sea by 2030. Some 800 MW is installed today.