Interview: Paul Coffey, COO RWE Innogy
Paul Coffey joined Innogy Plc (today RWE npower Plc) as Manager for Special Customer Marketing and Asset Disposal Project Manager in 2002. Since then he has held various positions within the company and became Managing Director for Operations & Technology at RWE npower Plc in 2009. In October 2009, Mr Coffey was appointed Chief Operating Officer at RWE Innogy.read more
Nordsee Ost is an EU-sponsored renewable energy project currently being implemented by German energy concern RWE Innogy to the north-east of the island of Heligoland in the German North Sea region. Once operational, the wind farm will be one of the largest commercial wind farms in Europe and will showcase state-of-the-art wind generating technology, making a significant contribution to the climate goals of the German government and the European Union.
The wind farm will have a total output of around 295 megawatts from its 48 multi-megawatt wind turbines, which is enough to supply approximately 300,000 households with electricity annually. When fully operational, the wind farm will produce 1,200 GWh of green electricity and will have a corresponding impact on CO2 emissions, mitigating an estimated 850,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide each year based on the equivalent production by a modern gas-fired power plant. The project will improve the security of energy supplies in Europe while at the same time providing a direct financial stimulus for the European economy and creating jobs. In addition, the project will strengthen the competitiveness of the European offshore wind industry and contribute to its innovative capacity, in line with the EU’s SET-Plan mandate.
RWE Innogy is investing about €1 billion in the project, and EU involvement is capped at €50 million. EU funding is provided under the European Energy Programme for Recovery (EEPR), set up in 2009 to co-finance projects designed to make energy supplies more reliable and help reduce greenhouse emissions, while simultaneously boosting Europe's economic recovery. The EEPR is co-financing the supply of the first 30 innovative wind turbine generators to the wind farm.
Nordsee Ost, which covers an area of some 24 square kilometres, is located outside the main shipping lines, military training areas and sea bird protection zones, and so is an ideal site for the construction of a wind farm. As the wind farm is located 35 km out to sea, the turbines will not be visible from the shore. The sandy subsoil in the area is well-suited to the erection of wind turbines.
Meteorological mast valuations have confirmed good and stable wind conditions at the site. This data was also used to reach decisions on the various design solutions for the wind farm, such as the type of turbine to use. In addition to the meteorological mast, data was also received from special buoys, which were used to analyse the behaviour of the sea at the site, including wave direction, average wave height and so on.
The foundations for Nordsee Ost are manufactured by Kvaerner and are to be placed at water depths of 22 to 25 metres. Each of these foundations is up to 50 metres high and weighs approximately 550 tonnes. The turbine towers will stretch almost 100 metres into the air, where they will be able to benefit from the strongest winds. The nacelle has a weight of around 350 tonnes and the rotor consists of three blades of 61.5 metres in length. The wind farm’s measuring tower is equipped with a laser-assisted measuring system which enables it to measure wind velocity and direction, both horizontally and vertically, up to a height of 200 metres. When the wind farm is operational, this data will be sent to an onshore control centre, which will ensure the optimal settings for the wind turbines.
All 48 wind turbines, which are being supplied by Germany’s Repower Systems, are interconnected by inter-array cables and linked to a substation, requiring more than 60 kilometres of cable in total. An offshore substation will be built to convert the 33kV electricity produced by the wind turbines to a transmission voltage of 155kV. The stepped-up power will be transmitted to a grid connection point at Brunsbüttel using high-voltage subsea cables.
Construction on the project began in the summer of 2012 and the wind farm is set to be fully operational in 2014.
2000: plans for the construction of a wind farm are originally developed by Winkra Offshore Nordsee Planungs und Betriebsgesellschaft
2002: the project is acquired by Dutch energy company Essent
2004: Germany’s Federal Office for Shipping and Hydrography approves the project
2005: a metering mast is installed at Amrumbank; the data received is used as a basis for the development of the Nordsee-Ost wind power station
2007: the project receives the necessary approvals for the installation of offshore cables
2008: RWE sets up renewable energy subsidiary RWE Innogy
2009: RWE acquires Essent and Nordsee-Ost is transferred to RWE Innogy
2011: RWE Innogy successfully completes the installation of a measuring tower at Nordsee Ost
2012: RWE Innogy commissions the Victoria Mathias offshore installation vessel to build the Nordsee Ost wind farm
Present: components are being produced and delivered to Nordsee Ost’s base harbour at Bremerhaven. Work is underway to install offshore turbine foundations.