Project financing for a 288MW German offshore wind project has been announced in the first deal of the year, with the European Investment Bank (EIB) agreeing to support construction of the 80 turbine Baltic 2 wind farm, planned for waters to the north of the Baltic sea island of Rügen.
Announcement of the €500m loan is a significant boost to the German offshore wind industry, at the start of what Windpower Offshore expects will be a strong year, despite the complexity surrounding delays to offshore cable construction in the German North Sea.
Baltic 2 represents German utility EnBW's first large-scale offshore project. It will feature Siemens 3.6MW turbines. EnBW also owns and operates the 48MW Baltic 1 wind farm.
Construction of Baltic 2's foundations is due to begin this month. Speaking with Windpower Offshore last autumn, EnBW's head of offshore operations and maintenance, Michael Boll, acknowledged that challenging seabed conditions – namely, the presence of chalk - on part of the Baltic 2 site had prompted the company to make revisions to the project's foundation engineering.
In addition to its two Baltic Sea offshore wind projects, EnBW owns development rights for two German North Sea projects. Combined, the four wind farms are designed to assist the energy utility in achieving its 20% renewable supply target by 2020. However, delays in the construction of the German North Sea offshore electricity network are thought to have been a factor in prompting EnBW's November 2011 announcement that it has put its 500MW Hohe See project on hold.
The EIB has a history of supporting wind energy projects and was amongst a group of institutions that agreed last year to provide financing for the Belgian 216MW Northwind project. Commenting on the Baltic 2 loan, EnBW finance chair, Thomas Kusterer, said:"Participation of the EIB in such projects represents a decisive element in structuring and financing. We are delighted that we have created a solid financial basis for the project by signing the contract with the EIB."