Closer to first plant

Half the development costs of a 600 MW offshore wind station in the Baltic Sea will be financed by the Deutsche Bank, a German high street bank, which also says it will participate in financing up to 50% of the EUR 1 billion construction costs. The remaining development and construction costs of the Ventotec Ost 2 project will be financed by wind financing company GHF, based in Leer.

Through its subsidiary, Deutsche Immobilien Leasing (DIL), Deutsche Bank is participating fully in the risk and is not just providing a loan, according to Gerhard Isemeyer of GHF's wind subsidiary, Ventotec, the project developer. He adds that the financing has been approved by the bank's board of directors.

"This is the first time a bank has committed itself to co-financing a German offshore station," says Michael Neumann of Arcadis, the German division of an international consultant and management service firm also involved in the project. The other project partner is Vestas Deutschland, the turbine supplier for the station.

While development costs amount to less than EUR 10 million, construction costs will be much more substantial and financing is still under discussion. According to Isemeyer, options include GHF raising the funds separately or jointly with DIL, taking an energy company or other entity on board, and launching a closed-end wind fund to raise all or part of the equity and project financing.

The 600 MW station is planned for a site with a water depth of 40 metres, lying 35 kilometres north-east of the island of Rügen. Initially a pilot phase will be built of 50 turbines -- probably Vestas V90 3 MW machines. The station will be connected to the grid at Greifswald using network infrastructure formerly used by a now decommissioned nuclear power station. A permit for the first phase of the offshore project is expected by early 2005 after which construction could begin.

Meantime, Arcadis Consult has a permit to install a Vestas V80 2 MW machine at a site south of Rügen, again in 40 metres of water. This project will test a new type of floating turbine foundation developed by Arcadis Consult, Vestas and GHF destined for use in the Ventotec Ost 2 station, which they claim will reduce foundation costs by 50% compared with foundations fixed to the sea bed. The pilot machine is to be installed in May 2004. Arcadis Consult has installed about 150 turbines with together around 300 MW onshore in Germany, and has specialised in providing foundation solutions.