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Offshore windpark plans buffeted by doubt

The Local · 26 Jun 2012, 10:24

Published: 26 Jun 2012 10:24 GMT+02:00

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The German government - in what is being described here as a hugely ambitious "energy turnaround" for Europe's biggest economy - has decided to pull out of nuclear power in the wake of the Fukushima disaster in Japan and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.

Instead, Germany is seeking to meet 35 percent of its energy needs via renewable sources such as solar and wind by 2020 -- compared with 20 percent at present -- and as much as 80 percent by 2050.

Vast wind parks in the North Sea form an essential part of this strategy, with the aim to generate 10,000 megawatts of wind power offshore by 2010, compared with just 200 megawatts at present.

But such ambitions may prove futile, not least due to problems in finding adequate financing, according to a new study by the Hamburg-based economic think-tank HWWI.

So far, the drive to build offshore wind parks "has proven very sluggish, largely due to the high uncertainty surrounding the costs of operating and maintaining them," HWWI said.

"At the same time, the wind parks are not connected to the power grid. As a result of these uncertainties, financing is problematic," added the group.

The incoming head of German power giant RWE, Peter Terium, said that in addition to the problem of financing, there were also immense regulatory and technical challenges.

“The first wind parks off the coast in Britain are built at a depth of 10 to 15 metres. In Germany, you have to go out further beyond the mudflats, so you're starting at a depth of 30 metres," Terium told the weekly magazine Der Spiegel in an interview.

"We don't know what challenges await us in the construction of these offshore wind parks. It's an experiment, like the first flight to the moon," he said.

Terium rejected the charge RWE was responsible for delays in the projects. "The approval processes are at a standstill. Suppliers aren't delivering fast enough and there aren't sufficient special ships for installation," he said.

And the network operator is experiencing delays in connecting the parks to the power grid.

"That puts the economic viability of the wind park in jeopardy.

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We call upon the government to discuss with us and the other investors a solution of the problem and economic compensation," Terium said.

"If that doesn't happen, Germany won't be able to meet its offshore plans by 2020. And many of the parks which are actually planned for Germany will be built in England instead," he warned.


The Local (news@thelocal.de)

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Your comments about this article

15:02 June 26, 2012 by raandy
I would think the construction cost, and the cost of maintenance in an off shore wind farm constructed in 30 meter depths would be cost prohibitive.

The 2020 deadline to shut down the nuke plants is looking like pie in the sky.
15:18 June 26, 2012 by IchBinKönig
Everybody knows that this is a scam.

Didn't James Lovelock, 'the father of Global Warming' just say on MSNBC;

'we don't know what the climate is doing'

"We thought we knew 20 years ago. That led to some alarmist books - mine included - because it looked clear-cut, but it hasn't happened."

'"the world has not warmed up very much since the millennium. Twelve years is a reasonable time" for the warming to occur. Yet the temperature "has stayed almost constant, whereas it should have been rising"

He's slammed environmentalists for creating a "green religion" that "is now taking over from the Christian religion." And he has called the idea of sustainable development through renewable energy "meaningless drivel."
15:54 June 26, 2012 by catjones
IchBinKönig...like you, I always take one man's opinion and consider it definitive. Given the german penchant for project management, the wind farm should be up and operational just when the coal runs out.
21:12 June 26, 2012 by IchBinKönig
@ catjones

'I always take one man's opinion and consider it definitive.'

You certainly are a believer, which is why you're the one who advocates this nonsense. Who else would building the Arc, but for Noah? Is that you, my religious friend. Catjones' Arc. Or is 'Global Warming' just a convenient means to an end? Where ANY LIE is OK, just so we can 'clean up the environment'? maybe some Carbon Credits would do it? oh, just because people are so stupid.
12:08 July 1, 2012 by Small Town Boy
The wind farms have nothing to do with climate change or global warming, since they are being built to replace nuclear power, which is already a zero-emission technology. It's always worth reading the article before spewing forth your ill-informed opinions.
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