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DONG mothballs German wind farm, blames TenneT

Danish state-owned utility DONG Energy has frozen plans to develop the Borkum Riffgrund 2 wind farm on the North Sea coast of Germany, blaming local power grid operator TenneT TSO for the decision.

TenneT TSO, whose Dutch parent bought E.ON’s German high voltage grid in 2009, has come under political and financial pressure over delays in linking offshore wind farms to Germany’s onshore grid, as part of the country’s hurried shift toward renewable energy.

“Due to the lack of the contract for the grid connection for the Borkum Riffgrund II project being awarded, we have been forced to suspend the development and construction,” said Christoph Mertens, director of DONG Energy Wind Power in Germany.

“We will put it back into DONG Energy’s development pipeline.”

DONG said TenneT had so far failed to provide a fixed date for when offshore power cables could be laid – a prerequisite for transferring to the grid operator any liabilities stemming from potential delays in providing the links.

TenneT spokesman Harold Wouters said it was unreasonable to expect TenneT to cover the full cost of investment in the electricity grid links on its own.

“It is not a secret that the grid operators and the potential investors are waiting for decision to be made by the German government on liability and long-term planning,” he said.

“TenneT is looking for co-investors for these offshore activities, but they won’t invest before the German government clears the legal framework,” Wouters said.

On Monday, the German parliament will discuss a proposed bill to clarify issues related to liability in the case of offshore wind farms.

According to a spokeswoman for TenneT in Germany, experience with offshore wind farms has shown that roughly 1 billion euros ($1.3 billion) infrastructure investment was needed per 1,000 megawatts of output.

Laying cables at sea is not enough. To transport offshore power over distances of more than 100 kilometres without material losses, the electricity has to be converted to direct current, requiring a transformer station at sea. Another is needed on the mainland for the change back to alternating current.

German weekly magazine Der Spiegel, which reported the plans were being put on ice, said it had led DONG to cancel an order with Siemens for 97 wind turbines with a total output of 300 megawatts. Siemens was not available to comment.

DONG said the order had never been confirmed. ($1 = 0.7674 euro)