Market Status: Offshore - Germany - The year that Germany joined the offshore league

Last year was momentous for Germany's offshore market - its first wind project, Alpha Ventus, finally came to fruition.

The 60MW offshore test station went online at its site in the North Sea, lying 45 kilometres north of the island of Borkum. Investment by owners, energy companies EWE, Vattenfall and E.on, amounted to EUR250 million. At EUR4.2 million per megawatt, the cost was high, but with two types of German-manufactured wind turbines built on two different kinds of foundations using various construction concepts "one can ultimately say that we have built two wind parks", says Ralf Lamsbach, managing director of project company DOTI.

Two further 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.

Work will also begin on the 400MW Bard Offshore 1 project, developed by Bard Engineering. The site, lying 100 kilometres north-west of the island of Borkum, will be home to 80 of the company's own 5MW offshore machines. At least 50 turbines with a total of 250MW will be installed this year, says the company. The project was sold in August 2009 to a joint company set up by Sudwestdeutsche Stromhandel, with participation of around 15 municipal energy utilities, and WV Energie, which has the minority 30% share. Project financing has been agreed with the Unicredit bank group for EUR1.2 billion, some 70% of the investment volume including financing costs.

The Bard Offshore 1 project, also known as Ocean Breeze Energy, is one of four German offshore wind project recipients of funds from the European Union's European energy programme for recovery (EEPR). It looks likely that these beneficiaries will be the first major German commercial offshore stations to be completed. Aside from Ocean Breeze, 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. Installation is expected to begin in 2011 with completion in 2012.

RWE Innogy, too, expects to begin commissioning the first turbines of its 295MW Nordsee Ost project, sited about 35 kilometres north of the island of Helgoland, from mid-2012.

Trianel Windkraftwerk Borkum's 400MW Borkum West 2 project gets EUR42.7 million in EEPR funds for innovative 5MW wind turbine generators on tripod foundations. Its first phase, 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 Nordergrunde, which is to be built on a site 15 kilometres north-east of the island of Wangerooge, is also well advanced. It is due to use 18 Repower 5MW machines to total 90MW. But the project is held up by appeals from environmental organisation BUND and others against the construction permit, and finance is also still outstanding. The company hopes that the legal problems and financing will be cleared by mid-2010 so that construction can begin in 2011 or 2012.

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 of developments to 2020 released by renewable energy association BEE (Bundesverband Erneuerbare Energien) at the end of November 2009.