German town snubs Areva test site

Local politicians have rejected the installation of a prototype of Areva’s 8MW offshore turbine in the municipality of Drochtersen in northern Germany, leaving the French company and local developer Energiekontor scrambling to find an alternative location.

A committee in the municipality for various reasons rejected to include the project in local territorial planning, said committee member Heino Baumgarten from the Social Democratic Party (SPD).

With a total height of 250 metres, Areva’s machine would be the largest in the world so far, which could pose a problem as the closest building developments are only 1,400 metres away, Drochtersen mayor Hans-Wilhelm Bösch told Recharge.

“That likely would lead to negative initiatives against the project,” Bösch said. He added that while his municipality is very much in favour of Germany’s Energiewende – the move away from nuclear to renewable energy – it doesn’t see any economic advantage for Drochtersen from the test site.

On Wednesday, a member of the local Christian Democrats (CDU), the biggest party in Drochtersen, had already said his party rejects the project.

The giant machine would cast too much shadow on nearby local roads, would spoil the landscape and could impede the possible future construction of an onshore wind park with much smaller machines in the area, Baumgarten said.

Areva’s 8MW model on the drawing-board has a rotor diameter approaching 190 metres, with 90-metre-long blades powering a medium-speed geared drive-train, and permanent magnet generator concept "extrapolated" from the technologies used on its 5MW M5000 series machines.

So far it is unclear where Areva plans to test a prototype of the 8MW machine.

The French company has production facilities in Bremerhaven and Stade in Germany, and plans to construct a four-factory wind turbine complex at the port of Le Havre, France, making both nations potential candidates for a prototype site.

As Drochtersen is in the district of Stade, a test site there may have been practical for Areva.

Officials at Areva and Energiekontor couldn’t immediately be reached for comment.