Germany's First Offshore Wind Turbine

The first German offshore wind turbine under construction
Germany’s first offshore wind turbine under construction.

Germany has its first offshore wind turbine: The consortium of EWE, E.ON and Vattenfall, DOTI (Deutsche Offshore- Testfeld und Infrastruktur GmbH), has successfully completed construction today of the first of a total of 12 wind turbines for the alpha ventus offshore wind farm in the North Sea. A team of 50 specialists are on location at the open sea construction site. The 5-megawatt turbine is situated 45 kilometres north of the island of Borkum. All 12 turbines are scheduled to be in operation by the end of this year, making alpha ventus the first offshore wind farm in German waters. 250 million euros have been invested in this pioneering project. The power produced annually by alpha ventus will meet the energy needs of 50,000 households.

Construction of the wind turbines began in mid-April of this year after a first attempt had to be aborted in August 2008 due to bad weather conditions. Since April, work has proceeded at such a pace that construction of the first wind turbine is fully on schedule.

“This is a first for offshore wind energy utilisation in Germany” says Wilfried Hube (EWE), overall project leader of alpha ventus. “For the first time, wind turbines of this size are being constructed this far offshore in waters up to 30 meters deep. EWE, E.ON and Vattenfall are accomplishing a truly pioneering feat in the offshore wind industry and I am certain that alpha ventus will be a success story.”

The project is managed by a 40-person team of employees from the three companies involved. The joint company DOTI was founded in June 2006; construction work for the building and installation of the wind turbines has been underway since mid-2007. “What the three-company team has achieved since then is more than impressive” says Ralf Lamsbach of E.ON, who also serves as a managing director of DOTI. “The entire team is working in concert, beyond all boundaries of the individual companies, and shows the absolute will and motivation needed to lead the project to success. The teamwork is clearly the keystone to alpha ventus.”

In the decision to build alpha ventus, Germany’s first offshore wind farm, the three partners are breaking new ground. Although there have been cases of individual companies involved in other European wind projects, the general conditions for alpha ventus have so far been unique. “This is also reflected in the capital expenditure. The 190 millions euros that we had originally planned was increased to 250 millions euros” says Vattenfall’s Oliver Funk, who also acts as a managing director of DOTI. “In this respect, one can already say that we have learned the hard way, but this money has been invested well. In future projects, each individual company involved will profit from the valuable experience gained from alpha ventus.”

The next step is the phased launching of the first wind turbine. Also involved is connecting the turbine to the offshore transformer station, which will follow in the coming weeks. EWE will later be responsible for supervision and overall operational management of the newly constructed wind farm. “Here as well we are gathering important experience concerning the future availability and maintenance of the turbines” says Dr. Claus Burkhardt (EWE), who, as a managing director of DOTI, is responsible for the wind farm. “This knowledge will also provide us with further information on the profitability of offshore wind farms.”

The ongoing activities at sea can also be followed on the internet. A webcam positioned on the research platform FINO1 is focussed directly on the construction site. A link to the webcam can be found at on the alpha-ventus site.

In September 2008, DOTI set the stage with its successful construction of the offshore transformer station – a necessary precondition in order to transmit the generated energy ashore. An underwater cable, installed last year by Transpower GmbH (formerly E.ON Netz), connects the transformer station with the German power grid.

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