Danes count on incentives to smooth near-shore wind path, By William Steel, Recharge News, September 03 2015
The near-shore plants will join Anholt in Denmark's wind fleet
The Danish offshore wind sector is hoping first-of-a-kind incentives such as offering communities the chance to buy a stake in projects will outweigh local objections as the country plans 350MW of near-shore capacity.
The country has launched a tender for capacity to be shared over two or more of six potential sites and grid-connected by 2020. Turbines would be located between four and ten kilometres from the coast.
The locations were selected by the Danish Energy Agency (DEA) after a lengthy process that according to Kristine van het Erve Grunnet, DEA chief consultant and senior adviser "highlighted public acceptance and support to development".
That support was undoubtedly helped by the concessions available to locals who would be affected by development. Denmark's 'option-to-purchase' scheme typically offers up to 20% shares in an onshore wind project to local populations.
To help smooth the near-shore plans, it was applied for the first time to the offshore plants covered by the tender. Danish law also assures compensation for any loss of value to local homes.
The sites have already been approved by the Danish Parliament and Mayors of the relevant municipalities.
But the planned developments also face some opposition on the grounds of visual impact and detriment to tourism.
"We believe that a wind farm here just four kilometres from the beach would be a disaster for nature and the area around Bovbjerg," said one objector to the Vesterhav North & South sites, which along with Sæby has become a particular focus of objections submitted to the DEA and Danish Nature Agency.
Those three sites may be built up to 200 MW, while lower restrictions are placed on sites at Bornholm (50 MW), Sejerø Bugt and Smålandsfarvandet (100 MW).
Fuelling the objectors' fears is the fact that significant details of the wind farms, including turbine heights and precise locations, will remain unknown until the final tender is prepared next year.
Grunnet told Recharge: "It's not entirely surprising. It must be expected that as developments become closer to a reality there's new discussion and concerns raised. Those concerns, and formal opposition, are being considered carefully."
A final version of the tender rules will be published in January. "In my view it's not likely that the protest will lead to regulatory changes concerning this tendering process – however it might influence new projects," said Grunnet.
Denmark's government and wind sector alike will be hoping the projects proceed smoothly.
The tender represents a important aspect of Denmark's plans for wind growth up until 2021, and the near-shore locations offer the industry significant opportunities for cost savings, according to Grunnet, who said a ceiling price of DKr0.70/kWh ($0.106) set by the government would leave the parks financially competitive
It is also the first multi-site tender of its type in Denmark, and was designed to attract new project owners, especially smaller ones, as actors into the Danish wind industry.
In that respect it has already succeeded – new players WPD HOFOR Danish Offshore Consortium and European Energy Nearshore Consortium are two of three bidders who have pre-qualified along with Vattenfall for negotiations beginning in spring 2016.