Klasården nearly ready to go -- NEG Micon offshore in Sweden

NEG Micon hopes to start work early next year on a 42 MW wind farm at Klasården in the Baltic Sea off the Swedish island of Gotland. The Danish wind power company expects the Swedish government to approve the project by the end of the year, putting NEG Micon on course to complete the plant in time for a commercial launch in the latter half of 2002.

Consisting of 15 or 16 NEG Micon turbines about 1.5 kilometres from the Gotland coast, the Klasården plant will be the biggest offshore wind farm built in Sweden to date. The project will cost $50-60 million. Torben Bjerre-Madsen, NEG Micon president, says the company is in talks with prospective Swedish and international investors in the project. "We expect to have equity partners on board by the time we start building work and they will have financing ready," he says. "We are currently in dialogue with several interested parties."

NEG Micon's Steen Stavnspo says Klasården has good winds and a suitable water depth of 7-11 metres. "It is offshore, but the sea is not deep and the soil conditions are fairly good." Stavnspo adds that electricity generated at Klasården will be distributed by a local utility via the Swedish national grid.

Signs of simplification

Convoluted Swedish rules governing planning approval for wind farms resulted in the Klasården approval process taking twice as long as originally anticipated. Nonetheless, Stavnspo says the wind power industry has been heartened by recent signs that the government may be ready to simplify the process.

Sweden, says Stavnspo, has massive potential for wind power on account of its large size, sparse population and long coastline. "In Sweden we have a portfolio of more than 1000 MW of projects that we believe could materialise over the next five years. We are also aware of at least five times that number being planned by other developers."

All the same, NEG Micon believes a new government strategy for alternative energy is a prerequisite if wind power is really to take off in Sweden. "There is a lot of potential in Sweden both for onshore and offshore wind plants, and there is a lot of interest from project developers and utilities. The problem is that hydro prices make wind relatively less attractive." Stavnspo urges the government to adopt a national agenda to promote alternative energy.

Of the three existing wind plant, the newest is the Yttre Stengrund project in the sheltered waters of the Kalmar sound between the Swedish mainland and the island of Öland, south west of Gotland. Some five kilometres from the mainland, the five NEG Micon 2 MW turbines went on-line in July after an April construction start -- the first NEG Micon turbines to be sited offshore. Developers behind the project include NEG Micon, Vindkompaniet, a subsidiary of NEG Micon, and Aerolaminates, which is NEG Micon's blade manufacturing company in the UK.

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