Renewable Energy Mega-Flop! Germany’s Largest Offshore Wind Park Hasn’t Delivered Any Power Since March!

Online engineering news magazine Ingenieur.de here writes how Germany’s largest offshore wind park, Bard 1, hasn’t delivered any power since March due to “baffling faults” in the power transmission system.

Bard 1_Foto_Bard

Germany’s largest offshore wind park hasn’t delivered any power since March…due to baffling technical problems. Photo: Bard

The sub-heading states:

Baffling faults in the transmission systems have shut down Germany’s largest wind park in the North Sea. Since March experts have been searching for the bugs in the unreliable electrical technology, with no success up to now.”

Eighty 5 MW turbines sitting idle

Experts believe the problem could be in the HVDC transmission, which could be fault-prone. Ingenieur.de writes that the mega-sized wind park Bard 1 consists of 80 units 5-MW turbines. The immense losses incurred due to the shutdown with each passing aren’t difficult to fathom.

Ingenieur.de adds that the engineers don’t appear to be anywhere close to a long-term solution:

Up to now no one knows the cause of the transmission problems. The windpark hasn’t been delivering any power since March.”

The engineering magazine writes that the power generated offshore by the 80 turbines first flows to a collector station, where it is transformed to 380,000 volt AC power and sent to the BorWin 1 Platform before being sent onshore as 150,000 volts HVDC. Ingenieur.de writes: “However, this is not functioning.”

If the problem is indeed rooted in the HVDC technology, then Germany’s dream of supplying its demand with wind power will be in serious jeopardy. Ingenieur.de writes that should this be the case, “then the complete concept of the power providers, producers, grid operators and the German government is in danger.

Poorly engineered

Ingenieur.de writes, however, that it is unlikely that the problem has to do with the HVDC technology, as it is successfully being used all over the world. The engineering magazine believes the problems likely stem from the technology that is placed just before the HVDC platform, which “was designed by Bard itself, and not by an experienced company like ABB, Siemens or General Electric.” (One can almost sense the schadenfreude).

Ingenieur.de notes that Bard is now financially insolvent, and that in the meantime grid operator TenneT is scrambling to find a solution, hoping the faults will be rectified in August.

Anyone following Germany’s man-on-the-moon-scale offshore windpark project will tell you that it is currently quite a huge mess. So much so that things can only get better.

22 responses to “Renewable Energy Mega-Flop! Germany’s Largest Offshore Wind Park Hasn’t Delivered Any Power Since March!”

  1. Kurt in Switzerland

    Good job, Pierre – thanks for running it as a main article, the story deserves the attention. I wonder who is covering the gap in delivered electricity and revenue – -(rhetorical question). Let us know if you hear any news about the grid operator’s success in rectifying the transmission problems by next month.

    1. Ric Werme

      “rectifying” the problem? Yes, I’d say electrical engineers would agree that’s the problem. :-)

      I’m not sure what AC to DC convertors look like in that space, but I’d suspect that fullwave rectification ming be good enough to put out as DC.

  2. John de Melle

    Meanwhile of the coast of Wales the planning of the array has been abandoned

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-wales-north-west-wales-28580683

  3. A C Osborn

    As I said on the other “TurbineFire” thread, another Wind Farm provider takes the money and goes insolvent, great timing for the problems that are being found.
    All part of the overall scam of course.

  4. Bernd Felsche

    Earlier on Facebook following a fire in Bard 1 Offshore Wind Park I commented:

    Windy night. ;-)

    German report of that major offshore wind farm 90km off the coast.

    It was online “opened” in August 2013; opened for a set of teething problems and culminating on a smouldering fire that had the whole thing eventually taken off the grid.

    The whole mess had been producing “dirty” electricity that couldn’t be fed into the grid. The electricity generated can’t be made to behave according to grid requirements.

    Problems with the project go way back, to the shutting down of the original project company (BARD) which became insolvent despite subsidies, losing 300 “green jobs”. A new establishment (OWS) was left to pick up the pieces.

    NDR reports that this is only one symptom of the offshore wind fiasco; there’s another (smaller) windfarm nearby; but with no power lines back to shore because somebody forgot. Meanwhile, a generator at the offshore converter station that’s supposed to connect to shore, is burning diesel fuel to prevent the whole thing turning into scrap metal.

    The wind generators cannot generate without a grid connection to which it could synchronize. Even then, the produce dirty power and grid interference.

    Meanwhile, the operators say

    The 40 AREVA M5000 turbines for the German Trianel wind farm Borkum have been installed successfully by Trianel in the German North Sea. Located 52 kilometers off the German coast, this wind farm has a 200 MW capacity and covers an area of 56 km²

    And… not a whisper that they’re running on diesel.

    “Plague” may be an appropriate word for what’s running through the wind industry.

    1. DirkH

      Hey let’s just pretend it works. It’s cheaper for everyone involved.
      Why? Because the renewable energy surges wreck the price on the energy exchange – making it unprofitable to run the RELIABLE power plants.
      This causes the industry to demand compensation payments otherwise they’ll stop building and maintaining RELIABLE power plants.

      SPD vice chancellor Gabriel plans such compensation payments; which will result in 15 bn EUR subsidies annually on top of the 24 bn EUR subsidies annually that German ratepayers pay to renewable energy producers.

      http://www.faz.net/aktuell/wirtschaft/wirtschaftspolitik/energiewirtschaft-droht-stromkunden-ein-neuer-kostenschub-13075076.html?utm_medium=App.net&utm_source=PourOver

      Hey it’s only currency!

      1. DirkH

        Green commenters who don’t know anything about the grid are fuming – saying that Gabriel is controlled by lobbyists and wants to reward energy producers for their “obsolete business model” . Oh bless their tiny minds!
        In their mind, randomly occuring power surges = the future; stable energy supply = obsolete business model.

  5. Dave Ward

    I can’t help thinking that this is wrong:

    “The power generated offshore by the 80 turbines first flows to a collector station, where it is transformed to 380,000 volt AC power and sent to the BorWin 1 Platform before being sent onshore as 150,000 volts HVDC”

    It wouldn’t make any sense to drop from 380Kv down to 150Kv. I’m sure the first figure should read 38,000 volts…

    1. Peter

      I guess the thing that matters is the transformation from “AC” to “DC”.

      And, you can use thinner cables when transporting the same power (Watts) at 380,000 Volts as opposed to 38,000 Volts, so 380,000 Volts do make sense.

      “DC” (direct current) is better for long distance transportation because it gives less powerloss than “AC”.

    2. DirkH

      It makes sense. Higher voltage means lower current and less copper needed in the expensive sub sea cable. It’s send as HVDC anyway , the HV grid is AC, so you need to convert again in any case.

      1. DirkH

        Uh, I misread you. I thought it’s 380k in the subsea cable and 150k on land, sorry, .. forget my comment. So, I lack an explanation as well.

        1. Dave Ward

          No problems, DirkH – It’s just that with 380kV you are talking Supergrid voltages. 38kV ought to be enough for the immediate distribution between turbines and the substation at sea. Even that is going to be fun over time, given the environmental considerations.

  6. Peter

    Not to mention the effects all these electric fields seem to have on life in the sea.

    1. DirkH

      What? It’s DC in the subsea cable.

      1. Moose

        Any current in a wire generates a magnetic field around it. DC or AC makes no difference.

        1. DirkH

          So you imply the effects of a field are the same whether it’s alternating or not; and the same independent of the frequency with which it alternates? I don’t know what effects Peter assumes anyway; but I guess it’s safe to say that if there’s an effect on life it should come from alternating fields first.

  7. Peter

    Oh, and those high voltage lines are usually made of aluminium (or aluminum if you are on the other side of the pond).

    1. DirkH

      Not the subsea cable. You use aluminum for its low weight. Which is no advantage in a subsea cable. So you make that one out of copper, which is a better conductor. Besides, what’s the difference? The cable must be insulated anyway. Seawater is a conductor.

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