Berlin, Germany – The Baltic Sea is poised to become Europe’s second biggest wind energy hub after the North Sea following the launch of Germany’s first commercial offshore wind power park.
The Baltic 1 wind park, officially inaugurated by German Chancellor Angela Merkel on May 2, is about 16 kilometers (10 miles) offshore from the Fischland-Darss-Zingst peninsula.
The park consists of 21 wind turbines and has a total installed capacity of 50 MW. The park is operated by Energie Baden-Wuerttemberg (EnBW), a German utility based Karlsruhe that aims to generate 20 percent of its energy from renewable sources by 2020.
As Germany’s first commercial offshore wind power farm, Baltic 1 follows the country’s other big offshore wind park, the smaller “Alpha Ventus” consisting of 12 wind power generators in the North Sea. The park was launched as a test pilot supported by the German government.
EnBW has begun plans to build a second Baltic Sea wind park, a much larger facility with 80 turbines located offshore from the island of Ruegen. It is slated to go online in 2013. The estimated cost of the new facility is €1.2 billion.
The new EnBW wind farm is only the beginning of more onshore and offshore wind parks as well as solar parks in Germany. The government has so far granted permission for 23 offshore parks in the North Sea with a capacity of 5,650 MW and three in the Baltic Sea with a capacity of 1,040 MW. But demand is much larger: The government has received applications from potential operators to build an additional 56 wind parks in the North Sea and 15 in the Baltic Sea.
Germany’s energy policy has changed dramatically following the catastrophe in Japan’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. It now calls for far greater support for and use of renewable energies, particularly wind power.
According to German media, Chancellor Merkel plans to phase out nuclear power in Germany completely before 2022. Under the current system, power plants must be shut down after they produced a certain amount of electricity, allowing operators to delay closure until as long as 2022 or 2023.
Germany became the first European country to shut nuclear plants after the crisis in Japan. The government’s move to temporarily close seven older plants came just one day after Chancellor Merkel had imposed a three-month moratorium on the extension of the country’s 17 nuclear power stations.