Offshore project Innogy Nordsee put on ice

Thursday, 9 August, 2012 - 14:30

RWE Innogy has postponed the final decision on whether to go ahead with the German offshore wind farm Innogy Nordsee. "We actually wanted to start our Innogy Nordsee 1 project in the second half of this year, but the final decision has now been postponed until at least the beginning of 2013", RWE Innogy head Hans Bünting told the Handelsblatt newspaper. The fate of one of the largest wind farm projects in the world thus hangs in the balance.

Innogy Nordsee was supposed to be built 40 km off the North Sea island of Juist. RWE had planned to install 54 turbines with a combined capacity of 330 MW. In phases 2 and 3 a further 48 and 60 turbines were to follow. The total investment for all three phases was calculated by RWE to be around € 3 billion.
RWE is reacting as a consequence of the still unsettled question of responsibility for the delays in the grid connection. At the end of June RWE had sent a letter to the Federal Minister of the Economy, Philipp Rösler, informing him of delays of up to 15 months and damages in the hundreds of millions at the smaller RWE wind farm NordseeOst off Helgoland, which cost around € 1 billion to build. The turbines there will now go online at the earliest in 2014, one-and-a-half to two years later than planned.

Unless the general conditions improve, Bünting thinks it unlikely that RWE head Peter Terium will release the billions for Innogy Nordsee: "As long as the question of the responsibility of the grid operator for delays and breakdowns is not settled, there is no point in presenting any new project to the board of RWE AG. It would have no chance of approval."

At Windreich AG they are more relaxed about the future. "The general conditions may not be good enough for RWE, but for us they are perfect, because as an owner-managed medium-sized enterprise we set the right course early on – long before the energy policy shift. This is paying off today, especially regarding the grid connections", says Chairman Willi Balz, before emphasizing that his three wind farms Global Tech 1, MEG 1 and Deutsche Bucht were completed according to plan.

Ronny Meyer, Managing Director of the wind energy agency WAB, commented on RWE's decision: "Due to the as yet unsettled question of responsibility for delays and breakdowns in offshore grid connections, we have been warning since the start of the year that investment decisions for offshore wind farms could be held back as long as the general framework remains unclear.  Today's announcement proves that this was not just scaremongering; responsible business decisions require political security."

Katharina Garus

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