Newcomer on a fast track offshore -- Another 5 MW turbine

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All wind guns are blazing for German firm Bard Engineering. In the last two months it got its construction permit for the 400 MW Bard Offshore 1 wind farm, appointed Germanischer Lloyd to conduct certification and classification work for the project, including approvals for its Bard 5 MW turbine, and signed a EUR 170 million framework deal with Siemens subsidiary Winergy for 120 sets of gearboxes and bearings for the machine. Moreover, it is due to start construction on three factories this summer, one a turbine components plant and the other two assembly works.

Known as Bard Offshore 1, the project is located 90 kilometres north-west of the island of Borkum. It will comprise 80 Bard 5 MW wind turbines, designed by wind engineering company Aerodyn Energiesysteme of Rendsburg. Bard expects to install the first turbine in 2009, following tests due to start later this year on two prototypes being installed near Emden, where the company is based. The construction permit for the plant, issued by the German shipping office Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH), runs for 25 years, although it can be extended. Bard indicates it may be able to complete the wind farm in 2010-2011, one of the reasons for the deal with Winergy. "Winergy has the know-how, long term experience and sufficient capacity to deliver the components in the required amount up to the end of 2010," says Bard.

Own blades

The company already produces its own rotor blades, to be used on the new units at its Bard Emden Energy unit, which opened in October. A nacelle assembly works is being built at the same site. Bard has received financial support for both plants at the site from the state of Lower Saxony. "Bard is a pioneer in the offshore wind sector," says the state's economics minister Walter Hirche. "We support companies from this sector since they create numerous new jobs with a sustainable future." Bard is also planning a service centre for offshore turbines in Emden.

The other two new factories, creating 600 new jobs, are being built at the North Sea port of Cuxhaven in partnership with Cuxhaven Steel Construction (CSC), which is owned by Natalia Bekker, whose father, Arngolt Bekker, is the main stakeholder in Bard Engineering. CSC is also building the turbine foundations for Bard.

Production of the foundations will take place almost completely under cover "enabling serial production of up to 100 foundation units per year," says CSC's managing director, Manfred Bruhn. To support Bard's plans in Cuxhaven, the state of Lower Saxony and its Cuxhaven port company are investing up to EUR 50 million in a new quay to be used for shipping related to the offshore activities. The financing is a mix of EU and state funds. Bard Engineering's Heiko Ross says together with its factory plans, the development of the new quay will enable its 400 MW offshore power station to be built within a year.

Meanwhile, in 2005 the company lodged an application for a second offshore wind farm. Bard Offshore NL is planned for the Netherlands exclusive economic zone of the North Sea, specifically a site which lies about 60 kilometres from the islands of Ameland and Schiermonnikoog. Up to 400 MW of capacity could be accommodated at the site, says the company. A temporary government moratorium on granting licences to all offshore projects meant that Bard's application and all others were not worked on for nine months, but the application procedure is still running. "As the deadlines for permit application processing are taken very seriously, a decision ought to be due in mid-2008," says Bard.

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