alpha ventus 2011 Annual Review – Encouraging Offshore Power Yields

The alpha ventus consortium DOTI, formed by the companies of EWE, E.ON and Vattenfall, can look back with satisfaction on a successful 2011: the twelve wind power turbines of Germany’s first offshore wind farm have fed over 267 gigawatt hours of electricity into the German power grid over the entire year. This puts the amount of power generated by alpha ventus at around 15 percent over the projected total for the year.

“These results exceed our expectations", says a pleased Dr. Claus Burkhardt of EWE in his capacity as DOTI Managing Director and General Project Manager. “The exceptionally high power yields achieved by alpha ventus in 2011 are due primarily to the nearly constant and excellent wind conditions at the wind farm together with a high turbine availability of up to 97 percent.” Burkhardt adds that the alpha ventus offshore test field proves that offshore wind farms can be economically and commercially viable in Germany in the long term despite challenging conditions, such as long distances from coastlines and great water depths. The German government is correct in making offshore wind power a key technology for accomplishing the transformation of the German energy system (“Energiewende”). However, Germany’s ambitious development goals of ten gigawatts of installed offshore wind capacity by 2020 can only be achieved by quickly eliminating obstacles that are currently impeding industry growth and development. A particularly large obstacle is the uncertain and slow grid connection for planned offshore wind farms in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea.

Rudolf Neuwirth, DOTI Managing Director for E.ON shares the same opinion: “Now that the federal government has created better conditions, and therefore better incentives for new investments in offshore wind farms by amending the Renewable Energies Act (EEG) in the past year, they must now find a solution for ensuring the grid connection for these farms. Otherwise, many projects may fail, putting the continued growth and development of the industry at risk. This is how alpha ventus clearly demonstrates how offshore wind is a reliable a source of energy with enormous potential.” Neuwirth emphasises that the entire industry is currently placing great hopes on the findings of the “Arbeitsgemeinschaft Beschleunigung” (working group on the acceleration of offshore grid access), in which representatives from the Federal Environment and Economic Ministries, offshore wind farm investors and grid operators are presently working together to find solutions to the urgent problem of grid connection.

Bent Johansen, DOTI Managing Director for Vattenfall is optimistic: “Through the successful and positive experience of the joint realisation of alpha ventus, each of our companies has made further investment decisions to construct additional commercial offshore wind farms in Germany  Preparations to construct these projects are at full speed and for some projects construction will start within the year. This is how our companies are demonstrating their willingness to invest heavily in the offshore wind sector in Germany. Offshore wind is an important power generation technology for the German transition towards achieving sustainable energy (“Energiewende”).