REpower begins operation of alpha ventus offshore wind farm

High demand for offshore wind also has REpower considering expansion of its Bremerhaven facility, or the construction of a new plant in the U.K.

REpower Systems AG (Hamburg, Germany), together with Deutsche Offshore-Testfeld und Infrastruktur-GmbH (DOTI) and additional project partners, announced on April 26 that they will celebrate the taking into operation of the first German offshore wind farm, alpha ventus. In addition, the wind turbine manufacturer will announce that due to the great demand for offshore systems, planning will begin on the expansion of production capacities. The REpower 5M and 6M turbines used at alpha ventus are currently being assembled in Bremerhaven, Germany.

The Bremerhaven site is designed for the production of around 100 turbines per year. “In spite of extensive framework agreements, such as with RWE Innogy, for example, it's still possible to schedule additional orders into production,” emphasized Norbert Giese, senior vice president of the business unit offshore of REpower Systems AG. However, with increasing demand, there may not be sufficient resources in the future. “For this reason, we have started with planning for the expansion of production capacities. We want to be prepared to double or triple production within 16 to 18 months, if our customers should demand this. Currently, several variants are being reviewed, including an expansion of the production facilities in Bremerhaven, or even the erection of a new site, such as in Great Britain, for example. In the projects planned for that location, there is great interest in our products as well.”

REpower has specialized in multi-megawatt-class turbines that can be installed in deep waters and at a great distance from the shore, in order to optimally use the wind conditions on the open sea. Already in 2004, the prototype of the REpower 5M was installed in Brunsbüttel, followed by two systems in the Scottish North Sea in 2006. Even now, these turbines of the project “Beatrice,” which are standing in waters with a depth of 44m/144 ft, hold the record for the northern-most location and the greatest water depth.

“So far, we are also very pleased with the operation of the six REpower turbines in the Belgian wind farm Thornton Bank”, Giese reports. He continues: “Nearly all of the previous offshore projects were nearshore wind farms in comparatively shallow waters and were implemented nearer to the coast. With alpha ventus, located 70 km/43 miles from the German coastline, as well as the farshore wind farms installed off the coasts of Scotland and Belgium, REpower has now gained a significant edge in terms of experience.”

The company has installed a total of 26 type 5M and 6M systems in onshore and offshore locations so far.