Norway OK for Statkraft 8MW test

The Norwegian ministry of petroleum and energy has given the green light to national utility Statkraft's plans to install an 8MW offshore wind turbine prototype on an island off the country's west coast.

The machine – the make of which has yet to be specified – is expected to have the capacity to produce 20GWh, enough for 1,000 local households near its installation site on the island of Smøla.

"Statkraft is one of Europe's leading companies for renewable energy, and is a major player in offshore wind," says energy minister Tord Lien.

"In Norway it is well placed to test technologies that could lead to improvements in this type of production.

"This project will be a significant contribution to realising this kind of power at sea, although commercial projects in offshore wind are not so relevant for Norway as the situation is today."

A Statkraft spokesman  tells Recharge it is considering turbine models "of 6-8MW" standing 120 metres high and with a rotor diameter of about 160 metres.

Statkraft foresees final screening of turbine models – both two- and three-bladed designs – this autumn, with an OEM chosen "by the end of the year".

"The test turbine will be operated from the nearby Smøla windfarm and provide us with important and necessary knowledge and experience for the industrialisation of large offshore wind turbines," he says.

Construction work is slated to get underway next year, with completion in 2016.

The license to test the turbine had been contested by environmental groups, on the grounds that it might be a threat to "several species of birds" in the area.

The ministry said it had "not found that the entry of the applied test turbine will be of importance for the population", but has stipulated that the prototype be erected alongside an existing wind farm at Smøla.

Offshore wind JV MHI-Vestas has already deployed an 8MW prototype machine onshore at Osterild, Denmark and recently announced a four-turbine debut commercial deal. Recharge has sought comment from the company over any involvement with the Statkraft project.