Borkum Riffgrund 1 First German Offshore Wind Farm Balancing Grid

As of this month, Ørsted’s Borkum Riffgrund 1 offshore wind farm has been providing system-stabilising balancing power for the German power grid, making it the country’s first offshore wind farm taking up this task.

Bringing the electricity from Borkum Riffgrund 1 as balancing energy for the German electricity grid was implemented by Energy2market and Ørsted. After the completion of prequalification, which was specified by the transmission system operator TenneT, the offshore wind farm has shown that balancing power can be offered in the form of minute reserve and secondary reserve, and can be fed into the power grid.

In addition to TenneT, the Energy2market prequalification concept on which the project is based was also able to convince the other three German transmission system operators and was approved for all four control areas, according to TenneT. 

Due to the energy transition in Germany and the phase-out of nuclear and coal power, a lot of conventional power plants are no longer available, some of which have also provided control power. In order to prevent a supply gap in the provision of control power, the German transmission system operators have made efforts to prequalify renewable energies such as wind power and photovoltaics. 

As a reserve, the power from renewables equalizes the fluctuations in the power grid, such as those that can occur due to a sudden drop in electricity demand, or a change in the weather and thus higher production from wind and solar. The use of balancing energy can compensate for these fluctuations and thus ensure that there is still a balance between generation and consumption, with electricity being fed into the grid or taken from the grid.

Borkum Riffgrund 1 is located in Germany’s exclusive economic zone in the North Sea and consists of 78 Siemens Gamesa 4 MW turbines that have been operational since 2015.

The 312 MW offshore wind farm was developed and constructed by Ørsted, which is a 50 per cent shareholder in the project, with the remaining share owned by Kirkbi A/S (31.5 per cent) and William Demant Invest A/S (18.5 per cent) and now sold to Irish investment company Greencoat Renewables PLC.

The German wind farm is not the first to provide grid stabilisation service in its country.

Earlier this year, Dogger Bank C was announced to become the first UK offshore wind farm to use the functionality of its transmission assets to help stabilise voltage on the grid.

The 1.2 GW UK project, which is the third phase of what will be the world’s largest offshore wind farm, will provide 200 megavolt amperes of reactive power (MVAr) through its onshore converter station at Lazenby in the North East of England from 2024 until 2034, after the Hartlepool nuclear power station closes in March 2024.

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Photo: Borkum Riffgrund 1; Photo source: Ørsted (archive)