Bremerhaven, Germany (UPI) Aug 14, 2009
A year late and roughly $85 million over budget, Germany's first offshore wind farm Alpha Ventus has now gone online.
The first three of the farm's 12 5MW wind turbines began supplying electricity to the national grid Wednesday, the company said. Towering 328 feet above the rocky North Sea, they represent Germany's hopes for clean power generation from sea-born wind. The remaining nine turbines are to be installed by the end of the year, with the farm then supplying roughly 50,000 households.
Alpha Ventus, a prestigious offshore wind farm 28 miles off the coast of the North Sea island of Borkum, is being built by a consortium made up of energy giants Vattenfall, Eon and EWE.
A first attempt to finish the farm was made last year but it was canceled because of bad weather. Huge crane ships had already arrived in Germany from the Gulf of Mexico, but they had to leave after extensive waiting, costing the consortium six-figure sums each day. This and other delays have increased the project's overall costs from $270 million to $357 million.
But the blades are now turning, and German officials, who hope for offshore wind to account for a significant portion of the country's future energy mix to drive down emissions, are excited.
"Turbines of this size so far out at sea -- that's really a special accomplishment that can't be copied very easily," German Environment Sigmar Gabriel said in a statement. "We expect billions to be invested in more wind farms and up to 30,000 new jobs in the offshore wind industry."
Thanks to government support in the form of a lucrative feed-in tariff and lots of private green enthusiasm, Germany, with a total wind power capacity of 24,000 MW, has become one of the world's biggest renewable energy nations, with wind accounting for 7 percent of the German power mix. But Germany has been lagging behind Britain, the Netherlands and Scotland when it comes to offshore generation, with Alpha Ventus the country's first facility at sea.
The German government wants to have installed by 2030 offshore capacity of 20,000 MW to 25,000 MW, enough to power about 25 million homes a year. To reach the ambitious German offshore targets, it would take 4,000 more wind turbines to be installed in the North and Baltic seas.
However, the wind farms at sea have been delayed by the financial crisis and the insecurities and expenses linked to their operation far off the German coast. Unlike in Britain, for example, German environment regulations require the farms to be built far away from coastlines -- and that means deeper waters, rockier seas and more costs involved.
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Gerroa, Australia (SPX) Aug 03, 2009
Wind farming is opening up an entirely new revenue source for family farms throughout the region, with ideal locations around Kiama, Milton and south to Eden and the border. If fully developed, wind farming could be the biggest economic opportunity the South Coast has seen since the advent of the motorcar and weekend tourism. But it requires the cooperation of government at all levels to clear the way and provide the planning and financial environment that will underpin a rapid uptake in wind energy developments. ... read more
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