Germany’s first offshore windfarm pilot project, “Alpha Ventus,” has produced some impressive results for 2012. Alpha Ventus exceeded expectations for its annual yield in 2012. The offshore wind farm fed 267.8 gigawatt-hours of power into the German power grid. With that, its power yield is 15.3% higher than the originally forecast value. The good trend also continued in the first quarter of 2013.
267 gigawatt-hours is enough electricity to supply clean, renewable energy to approximately 70,000 households.
The Alpha Ventus offshore wind farm is a joint project of the utilities EWE, E.ON, and Vattenfall. These three energy providers established the “Deutsche Offshore-Testfeld und Infrastructur GmbH & Co. KG” (DOTI) operator consortium specifically for this purpose in June 2006.
In April 2010, Alpha Ventus was commissioned as the first German offshore wind farm, and the construction only took 12 months to complete. With a water depth of about 30 meters and a distance from the coast of 60 kilometers, that’s a pioneering feat of its own.
During 2012, the wind proved to be particularly steady, which was in contrast with 2011, in which the wind was more typical, providing high yields during the winter months. The positive trend in yield continued through March of 2013, with Alpha Ventus feeding over 63 gigawatt-hours into the transmission grid, almost as much as in the same period of 2012.
The Managing Director of the operating company DOTI, Wilfried Hube, had this to say about the 2012 yields:
We are very pleased with operating year 2012, after just over two full operating years it is still too early to set a standard and permanently raise yield forecasts for the future. Nonetheless, the good reliable power yield generated by alpha ventus shows that power generation from offshore wind farms is on the right way. The operators of alpha ventus consider offshore wind power to be a vital component in the future energy mix. Over the long-term it is our goal to reduce maintenance costs even further. Experience gained will also benefit follow-up projects.
Alpha Ventus is made up of twelve 5MW wind turbines. Two types of wind turbines are used, sitting on different platform types. There are six AREVA Wind M5000 turbines and six REpower 5M turbines, resting on two different foundations. The AREVA wind turbines stand on tripods, while the REpower turbines are mounted on jacket foundations.
In total, the rated output of the wind farm is 60 MW. During operating year 2012, the twelve wind turbines at Alpha Ventus achieved 4,463 full load hours, a value matching the level of operating year 2011.
The wind farm’s availability during 2012 was an average of 96.5% of the time, which will decrease slightly in 2013 because a number of service and maintenance measures are scheduled at the wind farm from May until the end of the year.
Alpha Ventus is located some 45 kilometers from the coast of Borkum and provides fundamental experience in the construction and operation of an offshore wind farm.
Renewable energy is taking many steps forward these days, fast. Germany is a clear leader, most known for its solar power trendsetting, but this story shows that it is also trying to leading the way in offshore wind power, with quite a bit of success.
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