On Friday, the figures for Germany's Alpha Ventus wind farm four 2012 were published. Like Baltic 1, the country's first commercial wind farm, Alpha Ventus continues to generate electricity far above the expected levels.
Alpha Ventus was Germany's first offshore wind farm and as such is considered to be a pilot project of sorts. It received research funding from the government into such matters as the impact on the local environment and technological issues that could be interesting for future wind farms. The project therefore contains different turbine types on different foundations (tripods and jackets) to see how each performs. The wind farm is relatively small, however, at only 60 megawatts spread across 12 turbines.
Not surprisingly for a startup project, it also went over budget. But the good news was that the project posted a capacity factor exceeding 50 percent in 2011, the first full year of operation.
The project company says, however, that power production is expected to drop slightly in 2013 has various maintenance and servicing work is to be done this year. Nonetheless, the outcome is good news, especially in combination with the equally impressive performance at Baltic 1, Germany's first fully commercial wind farm, which also exceeded expectations in its first full year of operation by more than 20 percent, though it "only" had a capacity factor of around 44 percent (3,830 full load hours). Baltic 1 is, however, even smaller than Alpha Ventus at 48.3 megawatts.
As yet, no one is calling for lower feed-in tariffs for offshore wind power, but the firms who have invested in the current two projects stand to make quite a return if this performance continues at this level. (Craig Morris)