400 MW Bard Offshore 1 North Sea Offshore Wind Farm Officially Inaugurated

Yesterday the 400 MW BARD Offshore 1 wind farm located 100 km north-west off the island of Borkum was officially inaugurated by Federal Environment Minister Dr. Philipp Rösler.

With  80 5 MW wind turbines, BARD Offshore 1 is the largest offshore German wind farm. The output of 400 MW is enough to supply half a million private household, Bard Engineering says. The first turbines, which are located in waters up to 40 metres deep, were connected to the grid back in December 2010.

According to the latest information on German offshore capacity by the information platform www.offshore-windenergie.net, 385.3 MW of offshore wind power capacity were operational in the North and Baltic Sea in June 2013. This only included 53 of the 80 turbines or 265 MW of the 400 MW of BARD Offshore 1. Hence including the additional 135 MW total German offshore capacity now amounts to 520.3 MW, with approximately 77% supplied by BARD Offshore 1.

There is still some room to the official government’s target communicated in the German NREAP of having a capacity of 10,000 MW by 2020 and 25,000 MW by 2030. The NREAP target for 2013 is 1302 MW. In a response to a parliamentary question, the government has recently indicated that according to offshore industry sources, an installed capacity in the range of 6 to 8 GW remains possible by 2020, assuming stable framework conditions.

Pursuant to Section 31 para. 3 sent. 1 Renewable Energy Sources Act (EEG), offshore wind farm operators can claim an increased initial feed-in tariff of 19 ct/kWh during the first eight years from the date of commissioning if the offshore installation is commissioned prior to 1 January 2018. In view of lower electricity prices at the European Energy Exchange (for the average June figure of 27.63 EUR/MWh and further information please see here), offshore wind energy has recently come under criticism.

In February 2013 the Federal Economics and Environment Ministers had proposed an EEG amendment to rein in the rapidly rising EEG related costs, which are borne by the electricity consumers. Though offshore wind power would have been affected, feed-in tariffs would not have fallen as much as for onshore wind power. The plans were, however, not implemented as the government failed to reach an agreement with the federal states, many of which are ruled by the opposition parties.

In a press release issued by the Federal Economics Ministry on the occasion of the inauguration of BARD Offshore 1, Dr. Philipp Rösler is quoted as saying offshore wind power was an important cornerstone of the government’s energy policy concept. “It is right to also bank on offshore wind power in a good mix of renewable energies”, Mr Rösler said, without further specifying what this might mean for offshore wind power after the federal election on 22 September 2013. In a recent study commissioned by the offshore wind energy foundation Stiftung Offshore-Windergie, Prognos AG and Fichtner Gruppe analyzed the potential of offshore wind power until 2023. Costs could be reduced by about a third provided there was a continuous expansion over the next ten years, the study concluded.

Source: Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology; Bard

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