Permitting Problems for Offshore Wind Park Foundations?

Financial Times Deutschland (FTD) yesterday reported that the Federal Agency for Nature Conservation (Bundesamt für Naturschutz – BfN) denies wind parks the necessary permits for the foundations for nature conservation reasons.  BfN today rejected the report as faulty.

There are currently two main existing types of foundations. One is a steel foundation that has to be hammered into the ground with roughly 15,000 hammer blows. The resulting noise emissions drive off porpoises, as studies at Germany’s first offshore wind park Alpha Ventus show. The other type of foundation is a concrete foundation that seals the ground to an extent that harms crabs and sea shells. FTD reported that BfN considered foundations that are drilled into the ground to be the best solution. However, they are not yet available.

FTD quoted a managing director of a company that is planning to build an offshore wind park off the coast of Sylt as saying BfN’s approach was hurting middle-sized companies and could not be explained to investors prepared to spend billions for reaching Germany’s climate change targets.

BfN today claimed not to have taken a position in favour of  a particular foundation. Instead, BfN had highlighted the need for a case by case assessment based on the specific location. A differentiated assessment is in particular necessary as starting 1 March 2010 certain nature protection obligations were extended into the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). In principle all types of foundations may be appropriate and will be assessed. BfN does not see any obstacles to completing the presently permitted wind parks with more than 1,800 turbines.

The Federal Agency for Maritime Shipping and Hydrography (Bundesamt für Schifffahrt und Hydrographie – BSH) is the authority that issues the permit for offshore installations.  Both BSH and BfN emphasized that foundations would not be rejected across the board. Each application for a wind park will be examined on an individual basis.

Source: Financial Times Deutschland, BfN

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