E.ON FID date for 400MW Arkona

E.ON plans to take a final investment decision (FID) on its 400MW Arkona Becken Südost offshore wind farm towards the end of this year, while trying to commission the 288MW Amrumbank West on time in 2015.

“We hope for stable framework conditions so that we can reach a FID [on Arkona Becken Südost] at the end of 2014 or in early 2015,” Holger Matthiesen, project manager for Arkona at E.ON Climate and Renewables Central Europe, told an offshore wind conference in Hamburg.

Plans by energy minister Sigmar Gabriel to reform Germany’s Renewable Energies Act, EEG, which have been subject to several changes over the past couple of months, have made investors hesitant to opt for fresh FIDs in German offshore projects.

The cabinet is slated to approve a reform proposal for the EEG next week. It foresees a two-year extension to the current “compression model” for offshore wind feed-in tariffs that gives operators the possibility to opt for higher tariffs in the first eight years of a wind park to meet elevated upfront construction costs. Parliament is slated to approve the reform before the summer recess.

E.ON is considering using 80 5MW turbines at Arkona Becken Südost on top of monopile foundations, but may also opt for fewer and larger turbines to reach the 400MW capacity of the project, 35km northeast of the island of Rügen in the German Baltic Sea, Matthiesen said.

The utility wants to choose the turbine type by the end of the second quarter, and plans to tender all other large components by the summer, he added.

In the meantime, E.ON is working full speed on getting its €1bn ($1.37bn) Amrumbank West wind park in the German North Sea commissioned in time next year. The company started installing the 80 foundations for the wind farm 37km northwest of the island of Helgoland in January. Because of delays caused by bad weather, only 13 foundations have been put in place so far.

“But we believe that we will still be able to achieve the planned schedule and connect to the grid as planned in 2015,” Matthiesen said. Earlier this year E.ON said the 80 Siemens 3.6MW turbines at Amrumbank West were scheduled to enter service in the late summer of 2015.

The utility has chartered the MPI Discovery, a self-elevating turbine installation vessel, for several years to install foundations, towers and turbines.

The long charter period allows the possibility of alternating the vessel between several offshore sites, thus gaining flexibility and extending the learning curve from the construction of one wind farm to several projects, Matthiesen explained.

The company has already used the MPI Discovery at various installation works at Amrumbank West and the UK's 219MW Humber Gateway.

E.ON intends to transfer the concept of flexible use of an installation vessel to the Arkona Becken project.