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.”