Offshore: Germany at last

Germany's first seriously offshore wind turbine, after years of planning, was installed last month in deep waters off the country's north-west coast at the Alpha Ventus demonstration project.

The 12 turbine offshore test station, to consist of six Repower turbines and six Multibrid turbines, all rated at 5 MW, is located 45 kilometres north of the island of Borkum, where the water depth is about 30 metres. The first machine is a Multibrid unit from the German wind turbine division of French nuclear company Areva.

All 12 turbines are scheduled to be in operation by the end of the year, according to the project company, Deutsche Offshore-Testfeld und Infrastruktur (DOTI), a joint venture owned by energy firm EWE, E.ON and Vattenfall. Turbine erection work began on site in April after a first attempt last August had to be aborted due to bad weather.

"Since April, work has proceeded at such a pace that construction of the first turbine is fully on schedule," says DOTI. The project is costing EUR250 million, up from the EUR190 million originally planned. So far, Germany's offshore wind experience was limited to three near-shore turbines.

Repower Systems, the German turbine manufacturer owned by India's Suzlon, has installed its first three 6 MW turbines, designed for offshore use, onshore at Westre, close to the Danish border, where they will undergo testing and type certification. The Vindtved civic wind farm is a "people's wind station" with over 200 partners involved from the north German districts of Westre and Ellhoft, as well as the Danish Lydersholm.

Developer RWE Innogy is expected to be its first commercial customer for the machine. Under a February framework agreement, Repower is supplying it with up to 250 turbines, specified only as either its 5 MW or 6 MW models (Windpower Monthly, March 2009). Some will be for the 150-180 turbine Innogy Nordsee 1 offshore farm, 40 kilometres north of the island of Juist. Project approval is expected by the end of the year.

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