German Offshore Wind Energy Woes…Ship Forced To Guard Exposed Underwater Transmission Cable

Volatile winds, burning generators, failing blades and buckling towers: these are just some of the technical problems plaguing wind power and thus making it a highly undependable and unreliable source of electricity.

Now we hear from NDR German public broadcasting reported of yet another problem plaguing the North Sea Riffgat offshore wind park located off the coast of the island of Borkum: an exposed underwater power transmission line.

Apparently the huge underwater cable delivering the green power from Riffgat to the mainland had been embedded below the seabed, but for some reason last April it somehow worked itself up above the seabed and is now exposed – vulnerable to North Sea maritime traffic.

Today a ship and a crew remain standing guard at the sea surface above the exposed cable in what the NDR calls “probably the most boring job on the planet”.

Riffgat is 15 kilometers northwest of Borkum and just north of the bustling shipping channel in the southern North Sea. Its 30 wind turbines are built over an area of 6 square kilometers and have a total capacity of 113 megawatts.

It’s not the first time that Riffgat has seen big problems. Between November 2015 and April 2016, transmission troubles kept Riffgat from exporting power.

According to NDR, the Dutch “Faxaborg” patrol ship manned by a crew of four has been floating at the site since April in order to “warn ships of an unusually dangerous area of hazard”.

NDR writes that some 200 meters of the transmission cable became exposed above the seabed one year ago, a condition that has been confirmed by grid-operating company Tennet.

According to NDR, the 50 kilometer long cable was laid with great effort 3 meters below the seabed and that the 200-meter section was washed away by the turbulent North Sea. Tennet says the exposed cable poses no hazard, but the Faxaborg ship was dispatched to stand guard as “a precautionary measure” to make sure “no fishing nets or anchors get caught with the cable”. The cable is only 8 meters below the sea surface at the location.

Guarding the cable is expected to continue indefinitely, at least until summer when the cable can be buried again. But a real solution remains elusive, NDR writes, adding:

Finding the right solution is no easy task. Just how much the entire affair will cost – indirectly to the consumers – was not stated by the Tennet spokesperson. That’s a company secret.”

10 responses to “German Offshore Wind Energy Woes…Ship Forced To Guard Exposed Underwater Transmission Cable”

  1. tom0mason

    It’s so nice to know that Germany has littered part of the North Sea, a refuge for cold water corals, and a breeding ground for so many fish, with these dangerous, inefficient, industrial monsters.
    I wonder if anyone really checked to find out all the sea-life that is imperiled by these useless, and from the evidence of this report, poorly installed and dangerous machines, or was it just a bureaucratic box-checking exercise?

    1. toorightmate

      These sea species would only be at risk if a coal mine was planned within a 500km radius.

      1. tom0mason

        You mean the North Sea coal fields?
        Coal washes-up on the UK’s NE seaboard all the time (know about since Roman times), as there are some substantial coal seam in the North Sea.
        The ones that were set to be mined…
        http://www.thejournal.co.uk/news/north-east-news/drilling-date-set-north-seas-6896191

        I wonder what happened to that idea.

  2. zzy

    What a pathetic problem. They can’t even keep their undersea cables properly buried!!! With all of the other problems that wind turbines have, I think it’s safe to say that wind power is the definition of Unreliable Energy.

  3. Bitter&twisted

    Many marine organisms are sensitive to electric fields.
    I’m surprised that the environmentalists are not up in arms against this kind of crony capitalism that permitted such shoddy work, without a proper environmental audit.
    Oh wait, it’s green power, it must be OK.

    1. AndyG55

      And many use infrasound for navigation and communication.

      I wonder how those sea creature cope with the bombardment of their environment by windturdine infrasound.

      I doubt the “greenies” even care.

  4. toorightmate

    These problems must be costing an arm an a leg.
    Who pays?
    The fairies of course.

    The CO2 horsesh*t has to stop.

  5. Green Sand

    They could always use ‘Das Boot’ to bring it in in lumps (charged batteries)? Well maybe there are issues?

  6. BoyfromTottenham

    This is the 21st century. Can no one in Germany come up with a better idea to reduce the risk of a ship’s anchor snagging the cable than posting a manned boat over it 24×7? Oh, it’s only other people’s money…

  7. John F. Hultquist

    Ocean waves are funny things.
    In the open ocean, a wave is energy moving through the water.
    Molecules of water move in a circular motion, up and down.
    With depth, this circle gets smaller, and smaller.
    Then it disappears.
    As the wave approaches a shore the wave begins “to feel the bottom.”
    Look up ‘ wave shoaling ‘.

    If you have seen pictures of fish, at depth the wave passes over without moving them. In shallow water they get moved by the water as the nature of the wave changes character. All this is very interesting — and fairly well understood.
    About the time of the 2nd WW, navies researched this because of the importance of getting landing craft through the shoaling waves and “breakers.”

    At just 8 m. depth, the bottom in the North Sea, a sea not known for its gentle character, will see a lot of action.
    And they did not see this coming?
    Uff da!

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