Confusion over RWE's plans for Nordsee 1

Misleading German press coverage says project is "on ice"

A suggestion by German business newspaper, Handelsblatt, that utility RWE has shelved plans to proceed with its Innogy Nordsee 1 offshore wind station has been widely distributed, but is factually questionable.

Innogy Nordsee 1 is the first of a three phase project, known as Innogy Nordsee 1, 2 and 3. Phase 1 was granted a construction permit in early April. This permit will be revoked if construction does not begin before 1 July 2014.  It allows RWE to install 54 turbines, not the 162 claimed by Handelsblatt.

Assuming 6.15MW turbines are deployed, Innogy Nordsee 1 would have a capacity of 332.1MW, not the 1,000MW quoted by the newspaper.

Handelsblatt's dramatic report fails to note that Innogy Nordsee 2 and 3 are not yet permitted. Permitting decisions are expected before the end of this year, RWE Innogy spokesman, Konrad Boecker, told Windpower Offshore earlier this week.

Boecker also confirmed that no final decision will be taken on whether to build the permitted phase 1 until there is "absolute clarity" on the project’s grid connection to shore. "With our project Nordsee Ost we relied on the word of the law and have learnt our lesson," he said, referring to German legislation requiring the relevant transmission system operator to have a network connection to shore ready when a newly-built offshore wind station is due to be commissioned. The legislation has not prevented delays in installing the necessary cabling to connect RWE’s 295MW Nordsee Ost project, currently under construction.

Such "absolute clarity" will not be achieved until the German government's draft proposals on reducing risk liability are implemented. This looks unlikely before the end of the year.



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