THE STORIES BEHIND THE HEADLINES

Abu Dhabi

London

New York

Sat, 14 Dec 2019 16:56 GMT

Germany Opens Massive Ocean Wind Park

Environment

7Dnews London

Wed, 17 Apr 2019 10:55 GMT

Chancellor Angela Merkel officially opened a massive wind farm in the Baltic Sea, on Tuesday, April 16th, calling it a project of "national significance" for Germany's "energy transition" towards renewables, as reported by AFP.

The Arkona wind park's 60 turbines tower out of the Baltic between the German island of Ruegen and the Swedish shoreline to the north. 

Erected in just three months last year, they are already supplying 385 megawatts of electricity, enough for around 400,000 family homes. 

French energy provider Engie has signed a contract to buy electricity for four years from operator OWP Arkona, a joint venture between Germany's Eon and Norway's Equinor. 

Electricity will be routed through a French-built substation whose 150 kilometres of cables link up the wind generators. 

Merkel said that the project showcased "the German contribution, also the contribution of highly developed industrial nations to developing renewable energy," thanking both France and Norway for their involvement. 

She added, "If you look at the historical responsibility that we have, since we emitted a lot of carbon dioxide into the air, it's a question of justice and of development cooperation" to nurture climate-friendly technology for others to adopt. 

Germany had long been seen as a pioneer in the switch to renewable energies, but Merkel's 2011 decision to exit the generation of nuclear power after the Fukushima disaster knocked the country back. 

Today, renewables account for 38 percent of Germany's energy mix, and are expected to hit 65% by 2030.

But the federal government has missed its targets in the past. Last year it gave up its goal of reducing greenhouse emission levels of 1990 by 40% by 2020.

On land, Germany's much-lauded "Energiewende" (energy transition) policy is struggling, with subsidies for wind turbines on the way out and the cost of transmitting electricity to consumers high. 

One kilowatt-hour (kWh) costs 30 euro cents ($0.34) or twice as much as in neighbouring France, which is still well supplied with electricity from nuclear plants. 

While land-based turbines may be running out of puff, Germany has been building them at sea for 10 years, despite initial scepticism. 

Observers at first warned of high costs, and upsets like storms or construction failures that plagued the early attempts. 

But costs have been squeezed and techniques improved in the meantime, with 20% of Germany's wind energy now coming from the sea. 

North Sea and Baltic wind parks boast more than 1,300 windmills with a capacity of around 6.4 gigawatts. 


Europe