Progress on design and permit process

Plans for a 500 MW offshore wind station using multi-megawatt turbines in the German North Sea have moved a step forward. Wind station operator and planning company Winkra Energie has completed a framework supply contract for up to 100 turbines, ranging in size from 4 MW to 5 MW rated capacity, with three turbine manufacturers in Schleswig-Holstein. The turbine companies, DeWind Technik of Lübeck, Husumer Schiffswerft of Husum and Jacobs Energie of Heide, have set up a working group to develop and produce the prototype machine, which is likely to have a rotor with 110 metre diameter set on a 90 metre hub.

The three manufacturers have guaranteed to deliver a "technically reliable and economically competitive" turbine type to Winkra Energie by 2002, says Uwe Carstensen of Winkra. If this condition is met, they will supply at least half of the 100 turbines in the first phase of installations. Hugo Schippmann of DeWind stresses, however, that the ambition of the manufacturing consortium is to supply all the phase one machines. He has no qualms about the competition in a potential Europe-wide tendering procedure for the project.

The prototype will be built and tested at an onshore site. The three companies will organise financing for the turbine development and have said they will try to tap the Schleswig-Holstein and federal governments as well as European sources for support funds. The consortium plans to start building the station in 2004 and have it on-line in 2005. The wind station is expected to generate about 20 million kWh annually, sufficient for 500,000 households, Carstensen says.

No conflicts so far

The wind station is to be sited about 17 kilometres from the German island of Helgoland and 25 kilometres from the mainland, well away from sight and from the Wattenmeer offshore national park -- a previous bone of contention between several speculative offshore wind developers and politicians (Windpower Monthly, July 1999).

Winkra Energie is working to secure financing from the investment and regional banks in Schleswig-Holstein and elsewhere. "We hope to finance the project largely as a people's wind station with predominantly private investors. Inhabitants of Schleswig-Holstein will have priority," says Carstensen, but the involvement of large investors such as utilities HEW, PreussenElektra and Schleswag is much desired. He estimates the project will cost about DEM 1.5 billion.

Authority support

Winkra's first planning permit application was treated favourably by government officials. The Schleswig Holstein government is expected to debate the project again this month, and a top official at the energy and finance ministry anticipates the government will continue to be supportive. Federal shipping authorities have also said they are willing to approve the use of offshore waters for the wind station. A seminar will be held in early 2000 at which all interested parties will be invited to state their views.

In addition, utilities HEW and PreussenElektra have confirmed that the undersea cable from the wind station can be connected to the onshore grid at Brunsbüttel, where the two utilities have a nuclear power station, says Carstensen.

Magnet project

Carstensen predicts the offshore wind station will also secure more than 1000 jobs in the land. Other companies are being drawn into the project, including wind test company Windtest Kaiser-Wilhelm Koog, which may test the prototype, and certification company Germanischer Lloyd, he says. Other turbine manufacturers have also expressed interest in the offshore project, the company adds. Klaus Nielsen of Husumer Schiffswerft -- which is also a shipbuilding company -- hopes that the shipyard and port will play a role in construction. Helgoland will also be involved as headquarters for the operator company, Carstensen says.

If all goes well with this project, Winkra hopes later to build a second tranche of another 100 turbines.

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