Germany: Companies Clear Up Offshore Wind Industry Prejudices

Germany: Companies Clear Up Offshore Wind Industry Prejudices

WINDREICH, AREVA, ALSTOM, HOCHTIEF, Nordseewerke and the Offshore Wind Energy Foundation clear up prejudices of an allegedly difficult sector and present their successful model for planning, financing, establishment and start-up of offshore wind farms. Thanks to the effective cooperation of experienced partners the opportunities of the energy transition can be utilised. Logistics and cabling challenges are mastered.

Despite aggressive talk speculating about the failure of the offshore sector, a small group of experienced companies proves that even in such a difficult environment success is possible. The milestones put into practice by WINDREICH, AREVA, ALSTOM, HOCHTIEF and Nordseewerke are proof of this. Pioneering spirit, know-how and a network of strong partners enable these companies to clear up negative headlines. Windreich Inc. demonstrates that cooperation in the offshore sector is possible: a lack of assembly vessels, insufficient personnel capacities or unavailable power cables are not an issue in managing this project. As movers of the energy transition these wind energy experts have significantly influenced the development of the offshore sector.

Willi Balz, proprietor of Windreich Inc. and a university graduate of both business and engineering, is delighted to report that “as a leading project developer of German offshore wind farms, Windreich already has the power supply line guarantee from the respective network provider for three wind farms at its disposal as well as the necessary network confirmation of the federal network agency. An output of up to 400 megawatts per wind farm is estimated. In the third quarter of 2012 the substation will be transported to the Global Tech I wind farm in the North Sea. Precisely as planned, Global Tech I will be completely connected to the grid in 2013 thereby producing clean electricity for over 1 million people.“ With two Hochtief assembly vessels a smooth setup is guaranteed.

Both the AREVA wind power plants as well as the construction concept and foundation design have stood the test in 20 months of operation experience with Alpha Ventus in the rugged North Sea. Jean Huby, CEO of AREVA Wind, said that “on average the technical availability of the AREVA plants were at 98%.” The consistent and high wind potential and thereby the production of electricity surprised “experts“ and even in the weak wind year of 2011 exceeded projections by 15%. There were only three days on which no electricity was produced. That means base load capacity!

The successes are certifiable: In April, Global Tech I was named ›Best Project of the Year‹ by ›Infrastructure Journal‹ trade magazine. And according to wind:research three Windreich Inc. wind farms are amongst the top 10 offshore wind farms in Germany – in 1st, 4th and 8th place. In comparison, the best project of one of the four largest German energy providers was in 10th place.

ALSTOM, AREVA and Nordseewerke have been supplemented in the development, production and setup of components. While Nordseewerke provides the tripods, AREVA supplies eighty M5000 turbines. By the end of 2009 AREVA had already built the first six offshore turbines in the Alpha Ventus wind farm. The turbines will be produced in Bremerhaven and offer efficiency plus a robust, compact design that is ideal for transport, setup and successful operation at sea. Of the 252 AREVA machines that have already been sold 202 of them go to Windreich.

Planning for the following offshore project is in full swing at Windreich: following the start-up of Global Tech I the set-up of MEG 1 begins. Its substation will be anchored to the ground with posts via framework construction. This design enables a quicker offshore setup and the setup is better suited to the ground conditions ascertained on location. The existing 800 MW cable from Borkum West 2 can be used for the grid connection. With ALSTOM Grid’s many years of experience Windreich has gained a very professional partner for such important substations. Here it especially depends on punctual delivery, which Mr. Scholz from ALSTROM Grid has assured for the future as well. The cable route that has already been laid reaches to the city of Diele north of the Ruhr Area. Ca. 20 offshore wind farms can feed their power their. The Norge cable with the connection to the Norwegian pumped-storage power plant is also connected there. Only afterwards is the often-cited north-south route even needed. If it existed today it would not even be used. No electrical engineer understands why it is still constantly being demanded.

It is up to the federal government to not only maintain the path being taken in the energy transition but also to spur it on. Whether the full potential of offshore wind energy can be exploited is dependent on the plan of action of the new Federal Minister of the Environment. Resolute support of capable project developers that are ready to put things into practice and of the industries they are associated with, as well as the granting of the highest agenda priority stimulates the growth of the German offshore sector and strengthens its position in European competition. Whoever invests in the establishment of power plants that require no fuel today will pay the lowest price for energy worldwide in the future. Wind energy is already efficient and competitive today. Even moderate price increases for coal, oil and gas are already enough to make offshore wind energy the most affordable provider of energy. And it does so for the rest of eternity because wind as fuel will also cost nothing in the future and there is no dependency on foreign suppliers.


Offshore WIND staff, June 05, 2012; Image: windreich