European Energy drops Danish nearshore wind project

The lacking option to upgrade to bigger turbines than originally planned now prompts the project developer to scrap designs for nearshore wind farm Mejl Flak. Unfortunate, being that Denmark could use the power, sighs European Energy.

Photo: Marius Renner

20 wind turbines will not be set up in the Bay of Aarhus. The project developer behind the nearshore wind farm, Mejl Flak of 60-120MW, European Energy, has decided to halt engagement on the otherwise approved project, the company informs the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) in a letter seen by EnergyWatch.

In fact, this marks the second time the nearshore farm is abandoned. Back in the spring of 2016, the project's initial owner, power utility NRGI, closed down development after partners Aura and local co-owner Vindmøllelauget Århus Bugt jumped ship citing the business plan's inviability.

However, European Energy later took over the project – only to end up stating five years later that the commercial plan lacks sufficient merit.

"We find it regrettable to have to give up the wind project at a time when everyone agrees that we need all the green power that can be established in Denmark in order to achieve Parliament's 2030 climate objectives," says European Energy Head of Offshore Wind Andreas Karhula Lauridsen:

"Yet we are obliged to state that framework conditions for nearshore wind projects lack the adequate flexibility to accommodate development of wind turbines, which are becoming larger and more productive."

Couldn't find the turbine model

The developer's inability to see economic sense in moving forward with the project is attributable to limitations posed by the permit. A condition for European Energy taking over Mejl Flak was that the project should have been identical with the design and environmental impact assessment originally approved in 2014 – meaning deployment of wind turbines with total heights of 150 meters as well as 20 meters distance between blade tips and sea level.

European Energy tried to have the latter requirement altered to allow for a maximum of 12 meters between blade tip and waterline – although to no avail, thus making it hard to find turbines suited for the task, not only in terms of units powerful enough to recoup the investment – but also in general.

"We have simply not succeeded in finding a wind turbine on the market that could fit the framework originally set for the project," Lauridsen says and expresses regret about the lack of room to maneuver:

"It's necessary to reconsider policy and implement more agile processes for securing establishment licenses for domestic renewable energy developments. Otherwise we risk not having the green power needed to hit the climate target in 2030 and enabling export of Power-to-X products to the rest of the world."

Two projects fall in row

For European Energy to have gone the more conventional route of opting to install turbines taller than 150 meters, it would have required a complete restart of the process. That would probably have resulted in the project being dropped being that doing so would have put the project under newer regulation for nearshore wind turbines under the country's so-called open-door ordinance.

Such rules were tightened by a parliamentary majority in 2016, not least with the decision to entitle all affected municipalities with rights to object to the project. In the case of Mejl Flak, municipalities Odder and Samsø would have both declared their opposition to a wind farm in the Bay of Aarhus.

Scrapping Mejl Flak is not the only recent defeat for European Energy's nearshore wind dreams in Denmark. The week before last, the somewhat larger project, Omø Syd of 320MW, was de facto put down when the area in question was designated as a bird protection zone in the government's maritime plan.

European Energy's offshore wind dreams suffer fatal blow 

European Energy absorbs REintegrate 

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