German Renewables Awards For Wind Energy 2014

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Originally published in the ECOreport

The official photo (below) captures a little of the spirit that pervaded Hamburg’s historic Fish Auction Hall. It was more like a party than a ceremony. The atmosphere could be summed up in three words: fine, wine and conversation. This was where the German Renewables Awards for Wind Energy 2014 were announced.

Screenshot 2014-10-10 12.32.42
There were 61 submissions and nominations for four categories: “Lifetime Achievement, Wind Energy”, “Product Innovation of the Year”, “Project of the Year“ and “Student Thesis of the Year, Wind Energy”.

Lifetime Achievement Award: Henrik Stiesdal

Screenshot 2014-10-10 11.47.35Henrik Stiesdal’s relationship with wind turbines goes back to the Christmas of 1976. He and his father carved a blade out of two pieces of fir. Looking back, the inscription “M1” (for model one) seem an almost prophetic description for the man who is now being called one of the major players in the wind power scene.

Stiesdal retained his approachable manner after leaving the family farm in Denmark. In a video produced for the award, co workers referred to him with descriptions like “kind,” funny,” “very sharp.” The most commonly repeatedly anecdote is of his tendency to recline back in a chair and ask “So what?”

His career officially began at Vestas. He was CTO at Bonus Energy when that company was acquired by Siemens in 2004.

“My driving force over the years was my strong desire to make wind power the preferred energy source. In addition I of course greatly enjoyed working on this technology and being part of a sector that continues to develop larger turbines that are ever more profitable, efficient and elegant,” said Henrik Stiesdal, CTO of Siemens Wind Power.

Product Innovation of the Year: Qreon GmbH & Freqcon GmbH

Screenshot 2014-10-10 13.48.12According to the video, this story started in the Lower Saxon town of Freqcon. Two pioneers of the German Wind industry were puzzling over how to deal with unusual grid situations. Their solution was the Q82 wind turbine of 2 MW capacity with integrated energy storage system.

“We are fascinated by the idea of creating an overall concept where the tried and tested wind turbine technology together with innovative storage is connected to the grid only via one high-performance converter. We accept this challenge together with our strong cooperation partners,” said Qreon’s Managing Director Detlef Bengs.

Project of the Year: Riffgat

Screenshot 2014-10-10 14.49.15The first commercial wind farm in the German North Sea was chosen as “Project of the Year.” Riffgat consists of thirty 3.6 MW Siemens around 15 kilometres from the isle of Borkum.

One of the reasons for this decision was Riffgat’s focus on environmental issues. The video mentions protecting “sea mammals …  during the construction period.” The underwater noises from pile driving can be lethal for harbor porpoises.  The narrator described the project’s success, “Using specific technical equipment, the burden was reduced significantly.”

The two factors mentioned in the video are cost and environment. Is there a tally of the number of sea mammal fatalities? Or statistics that show  how much of an improvement this is? What value has this project brought? (in terms of energy and reduced emissions) And what was the cost to the local ecosystem?

Another significant detail about Riffgatt is that the project manager is a woman. You can get an idea how male dominated this industry is by watching the video.

“Riffgat is the result of a magnificent team with dedication, perseverance, competence and experience – every time I see our wind farm I am proud of each one of them. I know how hard we worked to demonstrate that offshore wind farms in Germany can be built on time and in an environmentally sound manner. The revolving rotors are a wonderful reward. The prize today is a great distinction and a confirmation which we are very happy about,” said a delighted Irina Lucke from the Riffgat project management team at EWE Offshore Service & Solutions GmbH.

Student Thesis of the Year: Jenny Bünger

Screenshot 2014-10-11 06.08.29The “Thesis of the Year” was an “analysis of of electrical tension in the grid in the case of a normal operating state, or in the case of grid disturbance.”

In the video, Jenny Bünger illustrated how the grid is being pushed to the limits by throwing pebbles into a pond. There were few disturbances when she threw a few pebbles, but the number  dramatically escalated after she threw a handful.

“This is the first work to analyse and provide suggestions for improvement for the methods of evaluation that are used in the grid and inherent protection of decentralised generation units, especially with regard to the certification of units and turbines,” said Jenny Bünger, RWTH Aachen / FGH GmbH.

Screenshot 2014-10-11 06.30.03

Notes on Illustrations, in descending order:


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Roy L Hales

is the President of Cortes Community Radio , CKTZ 89.5 FM, where he has hosted a half hour program since 2014, and editor of the Cortes Currents (formerly the ECOreport), a website dedicated to exploring how our lifestyle choices and technologies affect the West Coast of British Columbia. He is a research junkie who has written over 2,000 articles since he was first published in 1982. Roy lives on Cortes Island, BC, Canada.

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