German offshore pioneer Alpha Ventus exceeds expectations

The pioneering Alpha Ventus wind farm in the German North Sea produced about 15% more power during 2011 than expected by its operator, the consortium DOTI.

The 60MW development supplied more than 267GWh of electricity to Germany’s national grid last year.

The better-than-predicted figure was due to “excellent” wind conditions and high turbine-availability of up to 97%, says project director Claus Burkhardt of EWE, which owns DOTI along with fellow utilities E.ON and Vattenfall.

But Rudolf Neuwirth, DOTI managing director for E.ON, warns “many” future projects in German waters could fail unless the government sorts on ongoing grid-connection issues.

“The federal government has created better conditions, and therefore better incentives for new investments in offshore wind farms by amending the Renewable Energies Act in the past year,” Neuwirth says. “They must now find a solution for ensuring the grid connection for these farms.”

Alpha Ventus, Germany’s first deep-water offshore wind farm, began producing power in 2009. It comprises six REpower 5M and six Areva Wind M5000 turbines installed in 30-metres of water off the island of Borkum.

The wind farm encountered problems in 2010 when the Areva turbines had to be repaired.