No offshore construction but plenty of news -- Denmark makes waves

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In a year in which Denmark, the world's leading country in offshore wind development, did not see a single installation at sea, it did manage to create big waves on two occasions in 2004. The first rolled in with the announcement that its flagship offshore wind station in the North Sea was to be entirely retrofitted after just two years of operation. The second carried more welcome news of two big tenders, one of which has attracted a first-ever foreign bidder.

First the bad news of last year. All 80, 2 MW Vestas V80 turbines at the world's first big offshore wind farm in exposed waters, Horns Reef, needed a complete retrofit. Vestas began dismantling the nacelles in July and sailed them to shore, where faulty generators and transformers were replaced (Windpower Monthly, June 2004). All turbines were working again by mid-December. The cost of the retrofit program, together with production losses to utility Elsam -- Horns Reef's owner -- are estimated to be as high as DKK 100 million (EUR 13.4 million).

While Elsam, Vestas and its suppliers -- mainly ABB, which supplied the generators and troubled transformers -- received valuable insight from the retrofit, repercussions were felt throughout the sector. Anti-wind groups in the UK and US publicised the problems in their campaigns against offshore wind power development and the Netherlands government put the brakes on its support for offshore wind development after seeing film footage of rows of turbine towers without tops (Windpower Monthly, January 2005).

But not all the news was dire. The Danish government has announced two new 200 MW demonstration projects. The first, an extension to Horns Reef, is now out to tender among three Danish competitors: Elsam, Danish utility Energi E2 and a consortium of seven small wind project development and investment firms called Horns Rev II (Windpower Monthly, October 2004).

The second, an extension to the country's other big offshore plant, the 165 MW Nysted development in waters off Denmark's southern Baltic Sea coast, is in tender prequalification. It marks the first time that foreign bidders have competed against Danes for a major wind power contract in Denmark. The four contestants are: a Dutch consortium of marine building concern Ballast Nedam Infra and renewables developer Evelop; Elsam; the consortium behind the existing Nysted plant, made up of Energi E2, Danish Oil and Natural Gas (DONG) and Swedish utility Sydkraft; and Rødsand II, the same companies in Horns Rev II (Windpower Monthly, February 2005).

The two new projects will add 400 MW to the country's existing 415 MW of operating offshore capacity. This includes the 315 MW made up of the existing Horns Reef and Nysted stations, plus the 40 MW Middelgrunden and 23 MW Samsø -- both in sheltered waters. The remainder is made up of two pilot projects from over a decade ago and some smaller demonstration plant close to shore.

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