German utility EnBW has sanctioned construction of the 960MW He Dreiht offshore wind farm, moving ahead with development of one of the world’s first zero-subsidy wind lease bids.
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He Dreiht will be located about 45 nautical miles west of the island of Borkum, next to the Albatros and Hohe See wind farms. It will be the firm’s largest wind farm to date and one of the largest in Germany.
“In He Dreiht, we are building one of Germany’s largest offshore wind farms. We succeeded in the first German offshore tender in 2017 with a zero-cent bid and made an important contribution to the further development of the offshore market,” said EnBW CFO Thomas Kusterer.
EnBW arrived at a subsidy-free bid via several factors. These include installation of top-end 15MW Vestas turbines, among the largest and most cost-effective in the world; operational synergies with two adjacent wind farms; and long-term power purchase agreements with industrial customers. These PPAs have a stabilizing effect on wind farm revenue, according to the developer, even in the absence of subsidies. Buyers include industrial firms Fraport, Evonik, Salzgitter and Bosch, and the contracts for power sales come to 335 MW. Talks with additional firms are under way.
The total investment cost is about $2.5 billion, and the wind farm should be operational by the end of 2025. When complete, the wind farm should generate enough power for more than a million European households.
Allianz, AIP and Norges Bank took a 49.9 percent minority stake in the project, bringing it across the finish line for financing. German regulators have signed off on the permitting, and the project has a guaranteed 900MW grid connection to offtake power.
The project approval is good news for Europe’s flagging offshore wind industry, which built only 2.5 GW of total new capacity in 2022. Inflation in input costs for turbines and construction has increased dramatically, but power prices and subsidies have not kept up, according to industry body WindEurope. The industry is calling for additional government measures to smooth permitting and accelerate installation in order to spur more projects to completion. Though there have been notable recent improvements in permitting policy, “permitting is still the number one bottleneck for the expansion of wind in Europe,” said WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson recently.
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