IBERDROLA, through its UK subsidiary ScottishPower Renewables, has taken the first step towards construction of the Wikinger offshore wind farm in Germany, the largest project of its kind located at such depth (over 40 metres).
It has awarded two contracts, worth €18 million, to British company Gardline Group and GEO of Denmark, to conduct a full geological survey of the Baltic Sea area where the Wikinger wind farm is to be located in order to determine what type of foundations required for the project. Its 80 turbines will give the wind farm a 400 MW capacity.
In an area of some 34 square kilometres, the companies will employ specially designed vessels to take stratigraphic samples of sedimentary and metamorphic rocks, requiring 63-metre boreholes to be drilled. They will also conduct seismic surveys using sound waves to determine the structure of the terrain.
According to Keith Anderson, CEO of both ScottishPower Renewables and the Global Offshore Division of IBERDROLA, “the start of sub-surface drilling is a crucial stage of the project, enabling construction of one of the largest deep-water offshore wind farms in the world. The outcome of geotechnical testing will provide us with valuable data on the morphology of the seabed, which will directly affect the construction and design of the columns supporting the giant wind turbines”.
A technological challenge for IBERDROLA
The Wikinger offshore wind farm will be the first such facility that the company will operate in Germany. The Company is to invest €1.6 billion in this project, which involves installing 80 5-MW wind turbines capable of generating enough energy to supply 350,000 German households each year.
IBERDROLA will endow this offshore complex with cutting-edge technology, including 150-metre tall turbines that will stand 30 kilometres off Rügen Island.
The Wikinger project implies a major technological challenge for the Company’s engineering teams and suppliers and will create hundreds of highly-skilled jobs in the country.
IBERDROLA is committed to promoting offshore wind power as one of the bases of its future growth and seeks to lead the development of this technology, which it regards as a second renewable-energy revolution, as it has already done with onshore wind power.
The Company has an Offshore Business Department based in Scotland to achieve this aim. The department oversees the gradual implementation of the offshore wind facilities in its project portfolio, which already amounts to more than 11,000 MW around the world.
This portfolio is especially focused on Northern Europe, most notably the UK, Germany and France. It is one of the most ambitious challenges ever faced by a company in the history of renewable energy, providing an economic engine for the areas where offshore wind farms are developed and a boost for sectors in decline, such as shipping.
The first project to be set in motion will be West Of Duddon Sands, jointly developed in the UK by IBERDROLA with Danish company Dong. This facility, in which some 500 people are employed in the construction phase, will have a capacity of 389 MW. It is expected to begin operations next year.
The Company’s long-term offshore projects include the East Anglia Array, to be undertaken in English waters jointly with the Swedish company Vattenfall. It will be one of the biggest offshore wind farms in the world, with an installed capacity of 7,200 MW. The facility, which could get its first permits later this year with construction beginning by 2015, will supply power to around five million households.
The Company is also undertaking another wind farm project in the UK: the Argyll Array, a facility whose power capacity ranges between 500 MW and 1,800 MW.
Finally, the French Government this year awarded exclusive rights to a consortium consisting of IBERDROLA and French company Eole-Res for the construction and operation of the 500-MW Saint-Brieuc offshore wind farm.
With operations in 23 countries, IBERDROLA is the world leader in its sector by both installed capacity –over 14,100 MW at the end of June 2012- and output ‑over 16.9 billion kilowatt hours generated in the first half of 2012.