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Europe gives €562m to offshore wind farms

The European Commission has granted €1.5 billion to offshore wind farms and carbon capture & storage (CCS) schemes that will relaunch Europe’s economy and reduce its GHG emissions.

Six CCS schemes in Britain, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland and Spain will share €1 bn of the funding, and will be “the first 6 CCS projects in the world,” says EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs.

The 9 offshore wind farms in the North Sea and Baltic Sea will share €562 million from a reserve fund established by the EU in May for energy projects. “With this decision, the commission has laid the foundation for the development of two key sustainable technologies that will be essential in our fight against climate change,” adds Piebalgs.

The largest contribution (€150m) goes to Vattenfall Europe Transmission of Germany, Affärsverket Svenska Kraftnät of Sweden and Energinet of Denmark for the Baltic - Kriegers Flak, to interconnect the German, Swedish and Danish wind farms in the Kriegers Flak area through a modular-based combined solution, linking up the national grid connections.

TenneT of the Netherlands and Energinet will receive €87m for the Cobra Cable, a large-capacity interconnector between the two countries, to invest in designs for direct connection of offshore wind farms and the modular start of the North Sea grid. Scottish Hydro Electric Transmission of Britain will receive €74m for the addition of an intermediate offshore platform on the planned HVDC link (between Shetland and Scottish mainland) for connecting offshore wind and marine generation.

Ocean Breeze Energy of Germany will receive €53m for the production of the Tripile foundation system and installation of the cable in-feed system for the 400 MW Bard offshore wind farm; Wetfeet Offshore Wind Energy and Strabag Offshore Wind of Germany will receive €59m for gravity foundations for deep water wind farms using efficient serial manufacturing and fast installation processes; and Essent Wind Nordsee of Germany will receive €50m to install 6 MW wind turbine generators (jacket foundation structures) in challenging offshore circumstances, including a logistics and installation concept.

Trianel Windkraftwerk Borkum of Germany will receive €43m to install 5 MW wind turbines on tripod foundations in the Borkum West II facility; Aberdeen Offshore Wind Farm of Britain will receive €40m to develop a facility for testing of mutli-megawatt wind turbines with new structures and substructures and optimisation of manufacturing capacities of offshore wind energy production equipment at its Aberdeen offshore facility; and C-Power of Belgium will receive €10m to optimise logistics for upscaling the far-shore deep-water Thornton Bank wind farm and demonstrate substructures (jacket foundations) for deep water off shore parks.

“This unique decision by the Commission does not only give a push to the economy and employment, but also it supports innovative energy technologies that may create further jobs and growth in the future,” adds Piebalgs. By promoting CCS, the Commission recognises the continued importance of fossil-fuelled power.

The origin of the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR) is the global €200 bn European Economic Recovery Plan presented by the Commission in November 2008. Its focus is to contain the impact of the economic crisis and to create jobs in low-carbon sectors. Investments in energy projects are considered an important tool to support the economic recovery.

The EEPR programme was proposed by the Commission in January, adopted in July and came into force in August of this year. The EU contribution of €3.98bn to co-finance specific energy projects in offshore wind energy, CCS and gas and electricity interconnections.

“While wind energy is now produced on an industrial scale in the EU, in many countries, environmental and other concerns continue to limit wind farm developments,” according to EU documents. “Therefore, attention is shifting to offshore sites, which are possibly less contentious and where the quality of wind resources is higher. The development of offshore wind energy capacities is an opportunity for the industry; by the same token, it increases the diversity of the energy mix, contributes to the security of electricity supply and helps in reaching the EU objectives for renewable energy and for the reduction of GHG emissions.”

EEPR explains that an important part of the budget for offshore wind energy will support integrative projects for interconnecting offshore wind farms, including large-scale storage systems. The funded wind-grid integration projects “aim to realise a substantial EU-wide improvement of the large scale supply of offshore wind electricity up to the end-user at acceptable costs, while ensuring a more efficient, stable and secure grid.”

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