Germany looks to the future and with heavy offshore investment

GERMANY: The breakthrough for German wind arrived last year, as the first of the country's planned developments came to fruition.

Alpha Ventus: a breakthrough for the German wind industry
Alpha Ventus: a breakthrough for the German wind industry

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The 60MW Alpha Ventus offshore test station went online at a site in the North Sea lying 45 kilometres north of the island of Borkum.

It is not a fully commercial project. Alpha Ventus is a test wind station that is also being used for research and development. It is supported by the federal environment ministry, which is supporting research at the station to the tune of EUR50 million.

But the 12 5MW turbines, six supplied by Multibrid, the other six by Repower Systems, signals the start of German offshore development.

Investment by the owners – energy companies EWE, E.on and Vattenfall – amounted to EUR250 million. At €4.2million per MW the cost was high. But the project used two types of German-manufactured wind turbines, built on two different types of foundations.

"One can say that we have built two wind parks," says Ralf Lamsbach, managing director of project company DOTI.

Just two projects are likely to get under way this year. The EnBW Group expects to commission its 48MW Baltic 1 project in the Baltic Sea, using Siemens 2.3MW machines. Once in operation, the company intends to sell off 49.9% of the project, but not the rights to the electricity it produces, to a number of municipal energy utilities.

Secondly, work will begin on the 400MW Bard Offshore 1 project, developed by Bard Engineering, which will use 80 of the company’s own 5MW offshore machines at a location lying 100 kilometres north-west of the island of Borkum.

At least 50 turbines totalling 250MW will be installed this year, says the company. By February, the company had 35 machines and their foundations waiting to be shipped to sea.

Project delays in early 2010 due to late delivery of Bard’s installation ship Wind Lift 1 will be offset later in the year by increasing the use of a rented offshore installation platform, says Kölling.
The project was sold in August 2009 to a joint company set up by Südwestdeutsche Stromhandel, with participation of around 15 municipal energy utilities, and WV Energie, which has the minority 30% share.

WV Energie is owned to 50% by around 200 municipal energy companies and 50% by oil and gas company Wintershall. Project financing has been agreed with the Unicredit bank group for €1.2 billion or about 70% of the investment volume including financing costs.
Building the cables to shore for the offshore wind stations is the responsibility of the transmission system operators. The costs are rolled over to German electricity consumers as a component of electricity network usage charges.

The Bard Offshore 1 project, also known as Ocean Breeze Energy, is one of four German offshore wind station project that have received funds from the European Union’s European energy programme for recovery.

The funds earmarked for Ocean Breeze are a contribution to the extra costs of an innovative tripile foundation system and the direct current mains connection.
It looks likely that the EEPR project beneficiaries will be the first major German commercial offshore stations to be completed. Aside from the Ocean Breeze station, these are Global Tech 1, Nordsee Ost and Borkum West 2.

Wetfeet Offshore Windenergy has teamed up with Strabag Offshore Wind for installation of the 400MW Global Tech 1 station.

Strabag will use its newly-developed gravity foundation system in which the whole wind turbine including steel tower, turbine and hub with rotor blades is assembled at the production works in Cuxhaven before being transported out to sea. Areva Multibrid 5MW turbines will be used.

Project investment amounts to €1.5 billion, of which €59 comes from the EEPR support programme. Wetfeet is owned by municipal utilities Stadtwerke Munich and Heag, of Darmstadt, each of which has 24.9%, as well as investor company Aktiwo with 10%, and Financial Consulting, Wolfschlugen with 40%.

Installation is scheduled to begin in 2011, with completion due for 2012. RWE Innogy, too, expects to begin commissioning the first turbines of its 295MW Nordsee Ost project about 35 kilometres north of the island of Helgoland from mid-2012.

Under a framework deal with Repower Systems dating back to February 2009, it confirmed an order for 48 turbines at a whopping 6.15MW each at the beginning of February 2010, destined for the project which will be built during 2011-2013.

The Nordsee Ost project, which RWE acquired when it took over Dutch utility Essent in 2009, gets €50 million from the EEPR fund for the installation of 6MW turbines with jacket foundation structures in challenging offshore circumstances.

Trianel Windkraftwerk Borkum’s 400MW Borkum West 2 project, gets €42.7 million in EEPR funds for innovative 5MW wind turbine generators on tripod foundations. The first phase of the project, using 40 Areva Multibrid 5MW turbines, is to be implemented by 2012, the other 40 to be installed in a later phase.

The station will be located 45 kilometres north of the island of Borkum. Aside from these four projects, Energiekontor’s Nordergründe project is also well advanced, and due to use 18 Repower 5MW machines to total 90MW. But the project is being held up by appeals by environment organisation BUND and other groups, which oppose its construction. 

Finance is also still outstanding. We hope the legal problems and financing can be cleared by mid 2010 so that construction can begin in 2011 or 2012, says a company representative.  
Nordergründe is one of Germany’s few offshore projects to be located within Germany’s national waters, that extend 12 natical miles from its coast.

A site 15 kilometres north-east of the island of Wangerooge has been earmarked for the project. Wind development is prohibited in most of Germany’s national waters, due to nature protection regulations.
Of the four large offshore projects likely to get going first, three are owned by groups of municipal energy utilities, which are keen to build up their own power station generating capacity to counter the dominance of Germany’s big four energy companies.

All in all, a total 1.4GW of offshore wind projects could be in operation by the end of 2012, growing to 4.6GW by 2016 and 10GW by 2020, according to a forecast by the renewable energies association BEE (Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energien).

Projects that come online before the end of 2015 benefit from a sprinter bonus of €0.02/kWh paid on top of the initial feed-in tariff of €13/kWh, which is payable for the first 12 years of operation. At €0.15/kWh, offshore wind is close to being twice as expensive to consumers as the onshore wind tariff in 2010 of around €0.09/kWh. 

Some 8.9GW of Germany’s offshore projects already have construction permit. Another 18.2GW are in the construction permissions process, according to German energy agency Dena. The permits generally cover pilot projects of 80 turbines, which developers hope to expand on at a later date. 

For the North Sea, there are currently 21 permitted projects totalling 7.5GW. Another 42 projects totalling at least 16.6GW are in the construction permissions process. For the Baltic Sea, four projects totalling 1.4GW already have construction permissions. A further six projects totalling 1.6GW are in the construction permissions process.

*An extended, in-depth version of a market report that appears in next month’s Market Status special edition of Windpower Monthly. The issue features incisive reports showing the state of play for wind in key markets across the globe.

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