Three things to know as Germany opens massive ocean wind park

The 385 MW Arkona offshore wind farm in the German part of the Baltic Sea is operated by E.ON in partnership with Equinor, [equinor]

German Chancellor Angela Merkel will be joined by French and Norwegian ministers Tuesday (16 April) to officially open a massive wind farm in the Baltic Sea, a key project for her country’s “energy transition”.

Here are three things to know about the Arkona wind park ahead of the political festivities.

Baltic’s largest wind park

Arkona’s 60 turbines tower out of the Baltic between the German island of Ruegen and the Swedish shoreline to the north.

Erected in just three months last year, they are already supplying 385 megawatts of electricity – enough for around 400,000 family homes.

French energy provider Engie has signed a contract to buy electricity for four years from operator OWP Arkona, a joint venture between Germany’s Eon and Norway’s Equinor.

Electricity will be routed through a French-built substation whose 150 kilometres of cables link up the wind generators.

Engineers affectionately dubbed the hardware “the multi-socket adaptor” after the familiar household gadget.

Tuesday’s political inauguration with Merkel, French energy transition minister Francois de Rugy and his Norwegian counterpart Kjell Borge Freiberg is a signal of cooperation just weeks before European Parliament elections.

‘Energy transition’ on back foot?

Germany had long been seen as a pioneer in the switch to renewable energies, but Merkel’s 2011 decision to exit nuclear generation after the Fukushima disaster knocked the country back.

Rather than emissions-free fission plugging the gaps left by variable output from wind and sun, Berlin has had to fall back on intensely polluting brown coal and other fossil sources.

Today, renewables account for 38 percent of Germany’s energy mix, and are slated to hit 65 percent by 2030.

“In 2025, we will be well above the 40 to 45 percent target for renewable energy in Germany,” Merkel said in her weekly video podcast Saturday.

But the federal government has missed its targets in the past, giving up last year a goal to reduce greenhouse emissions 40 percent compared with 1990 levels by 2020.

On land, Germany’s much-lauded “Energiewende” (energy transition) policy is struggling, with subsidies for wind turbines on the way out and the cost of transmitting electricity to consumers high.

One kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs 30 euro cents ($0.34) or twice as much as in neighbouring France, still well supplied with electricity from nuclear plants.

From land to sea

While land-based turbines may be running out of puff, Germany has been building them at sea for 10 years – despite initial scepticism.

Observers at first warned of high costs, and upsets like storms or sunken windmills plagued the early attempts.

But costs have been squeezed and techniques improved in the meantime, with 20 percent of Germany’s wind energy now coming from the sea.

North Sea and Baltic wind parks boast more than 1,300 windmills with a capacity of around 6.4 gigawatts.

Importantly, seaborne wind power is less vulnerable to Nimbyism, or “not in my backyard” complaints from locals about spoiled views, noise or dead birds.

Environment groups have warned about risks specific to the maritime generators, with birds still falling victim to them and the noise of the rotors tormenting some sea mammals, such as porpoises.

Wind power to hit new highs in Northern Europe

In a fresh sign of new energy trends in Europe, Belgium plans to double the amount of its waters made available for offshore wind farms, while Denmark revealed the intention to build enough turbines to power its seven largest cities.

Supporter

LUKOIL

LUKOIL is one of the largest publicly traded, vertically integrated energy companies in the World. The corporate mission of LUKOIL is to make the energy of natural resources serve the interests of mankind. Every day millions of consumers worldwide buy LUKOIL products, energy and heat, improving the quality of their life.

LUKOIL’s main activities are exploration and production of oil and gas, refining and marketing of petroleum products and petrochemicals, as well as power generation. In order to reduce environmental impact and make efficient use of resources, LUKOIL has developed renewable energy solutions including hydroelectric, solar and wind generation.

LUKOIL conducts its business in a responsible and sustainable way, seeking to strike a balance between socio-economic and environmental development by supporting communities, contributing to the economy and preserving the environment. The company stringently abides by the highest global environmental standards and shares the principles of the United Nations Global Compact ensuring high levels of occupational safety and health. Taking social responsibility for the efficient use of natural resources in all its earnestness and maintaining favorable environmental conditions in its business, LUKOIL is guided by the highest HSE standards. In its operations LUKOIL pursues the sustainable development principles and seeks to achieve a good balance between socio-economic and environmental development.

LUKOIL corporate governance system is based on international best practices and fully incorporates the principles of openness, regulatory requirements, fair competition, and transparency.

LUKOIL ordinary shares are admitted to the Moscow Exchange. LUKOIL depositary receipts are listed on the London and Frankfurt Stock Exchanges, as well as on the US OTC market.

Subscribe to our newsletters

Subscribe

Want to know what's going on in the EU Capitals daily? Subscribe now to our new 9am newsletter.