Swedes approve offshore plant

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The government has given new hope to offshore wind development in Sweden by turning down an appeal to halt a 10 MW project at Utgrunden, in the straight between Öland and the south-eastern shore. Last year, the project was suspended by Kammarkollegiet, the coastal authority, on the grounds that it would be too expensive for taxpayers (Windpower Monthly, March 1999). The case was sent to the environmental supreme court.

With another 400 MW of offshore wind projects in various stages of planning, the court ruling is expected to set a precedent for all future development. The court ruled in favour of the wind farm in January, allowing the government to cautiously give the final go ahead last month.

The project developers are Tacke Sverige AB, a Swedish-German wind subsidiary of American power giant Enron. The government says the project will allow some "actual experience" for making planning decisions for future offshore wind power development. It requires Tacke to conduct a study on the effect of the wind farm on migratory birds. The Kalmar strait is a main migratory route for hundreds of thousands of birds in spring and fall.

The wind station will consist of seven 1.5 MW Tacke turbines on 65 metre towers and with of 70.5 metre diameter rotors, making it the first offshore wind plant in the country using megawatt technology. The turbines will be erected in a row in the middle of the strait, some seven to eight kilometres from either shore. The depth at Utgrunden is six to ten meters. Wind data is being collected by a monitor on top of an old lighthouse at Utgrunden. Tacke will try to build the wind farm this year, explains the company's Tomas Stalin, but with just a few months to get orders and contracts ready, it will be difficult to build the project before mid September, when it gets too windy at sea to erect wind turbines.

Meanwhile, the next offshore decision will be on a 60 MW project at Lillegrund in Öresund, the strait between Denmark and Sweden, developed by Eurowind (Windpower Monthly, December 1998).

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