Jul 16 2018

BARD Offshore I Wind Farm: A Case Study

Photo Credit: https://www.windpoweroffshore.com/article/1297004/bard-1-transmission-problems-continue

Overview:

Germany has always been a leader in renewable energy technology. Due to this dedication, they were able to institute what is now the 9th largest offshore wind farm by nameplate capacity, BARD Offshore I. BARD Offshore I is an offshore wind farm developed by Bard Engineering GmbH in the German North Sea which consists of 80 turbines, each with a nameplate capacity of 5 MW. This leads to an overall installed capacity of 400 MW (BARD Offshore 1 Offshore Wind Farm). The site spans an area of 59 km2 about 101 km from the shore, with the turbines placed on grounded tripiles in water that is approximately 40 meters deep (BARD Offshore 1 Offshore Wind Farm).

Cost:

The project is stated by 4C Offshore to have a cost of 2.9 billion Euros, which is an extrapolated estimate for capital expenditure based on UniCredit’s Summary Note from January of 2012. UniCredit and the European Investment Bank were the two players who were able to finance the endeavor and kickstart the project and, as of March 2018, there are rumors that Ocean Breeze Energy GmbH & Co. is attempting to sell the wind farm for 1 billion Euros. Due to such a heavy initial investment, Hirtenstein notes that after an unexpected restructuring early in the sites history, the asset was transferred to the Italian bank due to financial inadequacies. The farm has been operational since it’s completion in 2013, meaning that 16 years still remain on the original power purchase agreement made with the German government, which could provide the stable cash flows associated with contracted electricity sales (Hirtenstein, 2018). Although many projects are adequately planned financially, it appears as though there is a trend amongst advancing renewable energy technology in particular of project or even business failure due to a lack of funds. Even in a country like Germany, a renewable energy leader, unplanned expenses can easily derail a project.

Energy Impact:

Photo Credit: http://www.newgeography.com/content/00462-euroburbia-a-personal-view

In terms of the effects of the offshore wind farm on the community, BARD Offshore I is able to power 283,302 houses annually (BARD Offshore 1 Offshore Wind Farm). Note that this statistic may not translate directly across the world as the homes powered annually is directly correlated with the annual consumption per capita, which differs across nations. Additionally, 4C Offshore stated that the farm led to reductions of 572,554 tons of carbon dioxide and 13,315 tons of sulfur dioxide. It would be safe to assume that these statistics are similarly based upon the specific metrics in Germany. Although these statistics are not expected to be exact, it is important to keep in mind that consumer behavior may change as a result of outside influences such as a change in the source of electricity. Such influences may lead an individual to become aware of the importance of renewable energy and energy conservation and thus make the conscious decision to decrease their energy usage.

Environmental Impact:

In terms of environmental conditions, the turbines at BARD Offshore I have many of the same effects as any other wind farm. The construction stage of the project lasted for more than 2 years, leading to decent exposure to marine organisms (BARD Offshore 1 Offshore Wind Farm). As opposed to the classic monopile configuration, each turbine now calls for three steel beams to be pile driven into the ocean floor, increasing overall surface area affected. This stage of the offshore wind project would constitute the largest concern in terms of underwater noise as the pilings would have to be embedded into the sea floor. This process was expected to produce more than the ambient noise level of 105 dB anywhere within a 20 km radius. Based on the environmental impact assessment conducted by Arcadis, the decommissioning phase would present almost identical impacts as the construction phase but at considerably lower intensity.

Once operational, the issue of underwater noise would still exist but to a lesser extent, with variations in marine organism reactions that is not possible to project with accuracy (Environmental Impact Assessment – Offshore North Sea Power Wind Farm, 2011). Collision casualties from bats or sea birds would, similar to any onshore wind farm, be an issue worth exploring, especially given the massive amount of surface area consumed by BARD Offshore I. Even without direct strikes, an offshore wind farm can affect both fish or bird migration patterns and the cumulative impacts between multiple wind farms can expose a synergistic relationship (Vaissiere et al., 2014). Vaissiere et al. inquires about the environmental impact assessment at its core due to the fact that despite impacts on marine organisms, biodiversity offsets haven’t yet taken hold. If carbon offsets are able to compensate for the weaknesses of fossil fuel energy generation, then EIAs should exercise the power to mitigate and make up for the shortcomings of offshore wind energy.

 

References

“BARD Offshore 1 Offshore Wind Farm.” 4C Offshore Ltd, 4C Offshore, www.4coffshore.com/windfarms/bard-offshore-1-germany-de23.html.

“Environmental Impact Assessment – Offshore North Sea Power Wind Farm.” Arcadis, 6 May 2011, www.ekf.dk/da/om-ekf/CSR-i-EKF/Documents/10296_MER%20Norther_finaal%2006052011_EN%20_FINAL.pdf.

Hirtenstein, Anna. “UniCredit Is Said to Plan $1.2 Billion Sale of German Wind Farm.” Bloomberg.com, Bloomberg, 8 Mar. 2018, www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-03-08/unicredit-is-said-plan-1-2-billion-sale-of-german-wind-farm.

Vaissiere, Anne-Charlotte, et al. “Biodiversity offsets for offshore wind farm projects: The current situation in Europe.” Marine Policy, Elsevier Ltd, 19 Mar. 2014, https://doi.org/10.1016/J.MARPOL.2014.03.023

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