H/T to reader DirkH
The German edition of the Financial Times has a story today on wind energy’s latest debacle in Germany: treehugger-bureaucrats. In one corner we have environmentalists demanding the installation of wind energy to avert a climate catastrophe, and in another corner you have environmentalist bureaucrats stopping windparks in order to protect local wildlife.
Meanwhile, energy prices for the consumer are going through the roof.
The Federal Office For Nature Protection (no joke!), responsible for approving offshore wind parks, is having second thoughts about the foundations used for offshore windmills because “they pose a threat to wildlife”. As a result that have stopped approving any additional windmills until further notice. This is confirmed by a letter to the FT from the Federal Office For Nature Protection.
The FT reports that 2 types of foundations are used for anchoring offshore wind generators. In one type, huge piles are rammed into the seabed by 15,000 blows delivered by a heavy pile driver. But the noise this work creates is disturbing the whales, and they are leaving their living areas for quieter places. That has to stop.
The second type of foundation is the so-called gravity foundation made of concrete. But the heavy concrete pads end up sealing the seabed and thus damage crabs and mussels. Can’t have that either. According to the letter:
Gravity type foundations cannot be considered as an alternative foundation because they are installed on the seabed using acoustic ramming. A better way would be to use a foundation that is installed using some sort of boring process.
Technically this is possible, but there exists no company to do it. Meanwhile investors and the numerous companies that are currently installing offshore windparks in Germany’s North Sea now face heavy losses. The FT writes:
Severely impacted are companies that are deep into the approval process. This is because the approval processes are lengthy and costs millions of euros, as they entail comprehensive expert attestations and environmental impact studies.
Needless to say, offshore windpark companies are outraged. And all companies that are in the approval process have left out the question on foundations – fearing not being granted approval. But without a foundation, it’s impossible to put up a windmill – thus every approval becomes worthless.
Lawmakers are also outraged by the delays. Yet, the Federal Office For Nature Protection insists it is not imposing a moratorium of any kind, and that rather it is only trying to find a way to bring offshore wind energy production in harmony with nature.
According one German Parliamentarian, Torsten Staffeldt.
The Federal Office For Nature Protection is drifting into absurdity. If we continue like this, we’ll never reach our goals for expanding offshore wind energy.
Well I’d hate to disappoint Herr Staffeldt, but that point has long been reached and surpassed. Worse yet – the treehugger wars are just beginning.