Germany approves 1,800 wind turbines in offshore seas

The data was released in Hamburg by Christian Dahmke of the Federal Agency for Marine Transport and Hydrography BSH, which approves the plans after checking that the wind turbines will not obstruct shipping.

The first farm, code-named Alpha Ventus, is already being built. Of the permits, 22 are for the North Sea and three for the Baltic. Dahmke said a total of 55 applications had been filed by electricity companies and investors.

German Transport Minister Wolfgang Tiefensee forecast that the ultimate number of approvals would be 40 wind farms, which he said would create 30,000 new jobs in the region.

That many could generate 12,000 megawatts of electricity, enough for 12 million homes, he told the newspaper Hamburger Abendblatt. He said he would seek cabinet approval Wednesday for regulations on the new zones.

The aim was to install 25,000 megawatts of capacity by the year 2030. The newspaper published a map of the seven preferred sites, all at places in Germany’s exclusive economic zone, outside the 12-mile territorial zone.

The German plans to build wind farms offshore, each consisting of dozens of turbines, lagged for more than a decade because of engineering problems, fears that they would become a danger and investor caution. Denmark is much further ahead in building turbines at sea.

Bundesamt für Seeschifffahrt und Hydrographie (BSH, Federal Maritime and Hydrographic Agency) is the agency which decides on the approval of offshore wind farm development projects in the German North Sea and Baltic Sea. It carries out the application procedure for wind farms in the German Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ).

Most of the German offshore wind farms are planned to be installed in the EEZ. Within the 12 nautical mile limit, i.e. in the area of the territorial sea, responsibility for the approval of wind farms rests with the German coastal states. An approval granted by the BSH for installations in the EEZ is not legally binding for approval procedures involving installations on land and in the territorial sea.

The legal basis for the erection of wind farms in the German EEZ is the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea of 10 December 1982 and the German "Seeaufgabengesetz" (Federal Maritime Responsibilities Act), implemented by the "Seeanlagenverordnung" (Marine Facilities Ordinance), which is the basis for the approval procedure. It requires that a wind farm project has to be approved provided that
a) it does not impair the safety and efficiency of navigation, and
a) it is not detrimental to the marine environment.

In the course of the approval procedure, the BSH reviews whether the marine environmental features to be protected (e.g. birds, fish, marine mammals, benthos, sea bottom and water) are put at risk by the project. Besides, offshore wind farm projects comprising more than 20 turbines require an environmental impact assessment based on the UVPG (Environmental Impact Assessment Act). UVPG requires that applicants investigate the marine environment in the project area and predict the impact of the projected wind farm. The BSH has issued regulations specifying the required scope of the investigations to be carried out by the applicants with respect to each of the features to be protected (so-called „Standards for the Environmental Impact Assessment“).

The BSH and the competent regional Waterways and Shipping Directorate also examine whether the project would constitute a hazard to navigation. In order for a wind farm project to obtain approval, the regional Waterways and Shipping Directorate must have consented to it under the aspect of navigational safety.

An important part of each approval is the incidental provisions which, in a largely standardised form, are part of each notification of approval issued by the BSH for an offshore wind farm project. For example, wind farm approvals expire after 25 years, so that after the end of their regular service life an extension of approval can be re-considered. Also, to prevent that areas are reserved for future use, construction of the turbines has to be started within 2.5 years after notification of the approval.

A detailed description is available under approval procedure.

As the impact of offshore wind farms on navigational safety and the marine environment has not yet been finally assessed, the BSH so far has only approved pilot-scale projects comprising maximally 80 wind turbines. The purpose of these smaller-scale projects is a detailed investigation of the impact of offshore wind farms on the marine environment and navigation. As the determination of preferred areas for offshore wind farm development has become mandatory and the planning instruments for marine spatial planning in the Exclusive Economic Zone are now available, it will be possible in future to approve the construction of larger numbers of wind turbines in preferred areas for wind farm development, which implies that other, more sensitive areas can be kept free from such installations.

The BSH publishes relevant technical instructions in order to improve legal and investment security. In co-operation with a group of experts, technical instructions have been developed specifying detailed minimum requirements for the mandatory geological/geophysical and geotechnical site investigation at planned wind farm sites (Geotechnical Site Investigation Standard, 2008). Furthermore, a standard has been elaborated, which specifies the requirements for offshore wind turbine construction and ensures that all installations and structural components are certified (Standard – Design of Offshore Wind Turbines, 2007).

Approved Wind Farm Projects in the North Sea:

"Borkum West", Prokon Nord -12 installations, location: 43 km northern Borkum, approved on 9 November2001

"Butendiek", OSB Offshore Bürger- Windpark Butendiek GmbH & Co. KG -80 installations, location: 35 km westerly Sylt, genehmigt am 18 December 2002

"Borkum Riffgrund", PNE2 Riff I GmbH-77 installations, location: 34 km northern Borkum, approved on 25 February 2004

"Borkum Riffgrund West", Energiekontor AG-80 installations, location: 40 km north west of Borkum, approved on 25 February 2004

"Amrumbank West", Amrumbank West GmbH-80 installations, location: 37 km westerly Amrum, approved on 9 July 2004

"Nordsee Ost", WINKRA Offshore Nordsee Planungs- und Betriebsgesellschaft mbH-80 installations, location: 35 km north west of Helgoland, approved on 9 June 2004

"Sandbank 24", Sandbank 24 GmbH & Co KG-80 installations, location: 100 km westerly Sylt, approved on 23 August 2004

"ENOVA Offshore Northsea Windpower", ENOVA Offshore Projektentwicklungsgesellschaft mbH & Co. KG-48 installations, location: 40 km northern Juist, approved on 11 February 2005

"Dan Tysk" , Gesellschaft für Energie und Oekologie mbH-80 installations, location: 70 km westerly Sylt, approved on 23 August 2005

"Nördlicher Grund", Nördlicher Grund GmbH-80 installations, location: 84 km westerly Sylt, approved on 1 December 2005

"Global Tech I", Nordsee Windpower GmbH & Co.KG-80 installations, location: 93 km north of Juist, approved on 24 May 2006

"Hochsee Windpark Nordsee", EOS Offshore AG -80 installations, location: 90 km north of Borkum, approved on 5 July 2006

"Godewind", Plambeck Neue Energien AG-80 installations, location: 38 km north of Juist, approved on 28 August 2006

"BARD Offshore 1", BARD Engineering GmbH-80 installations, location: 89 km northwest of Borkum, approved on 11 April 2007

"Meerwind Ost" und "Meerwind Süd", Meerwind Südost GmbH & Co Rand KG und Meerwind Südost GmbH & Co Föhn KG-40 installations each, location: 40 km north of Helgoland, approved on 16 May 2007

"Hochsee Windpark He dreiht", EOS Offshore AG-80 installations, location: 90 km northwest of Borkum, approved on 21 December 2007

Approved Wind Farm Projects in the Baltic Sea:

"Kriegers Flak" Offshore Ostsee Wind AG-80 installations, location: 30 km northern Rügen, approved on 6 April 2005

"Arkona Becken Südost" AWE Arkona-Becken-Entwicklungs-GmbH-80 installations, location: 35 km north-east of Rügen, approved on 15 March 2006

"Ventotec Ost 2", Ventotec Ost 2 KG-80 installations, location: 35 km north-east of Rügen, approved on 16 May 2007

Genehmigte Netzanbindungen in der Nordsee:

"Windnet", Prokon Nord-110 kV three-phase current, landfall: Hilgenriedersiel

"Multikabel", Multikabel GmbH-High-Voltage Direct-Current Transmission System (bipolar HVDC system), landfall: Brunsbüttel

"Sandbank 24", Sandbank Power GmbH & Co KG-High-Voltage Direct-Current Transmission System (bipolar HVDC system), landfall: Büsum

"OTP", Offshore Trassenplanungs-GmbH-High-Voltage Direct-Current Transmission System (bipolar HVDC system), landfall: Büsum