RWE works on 1.6 GW offshore wind project in Sweden
RWE Renewables has carried out geophysical and environmental studies for the Södra Midsjöbanken offshore wind project in the Swedish part of the Baltic Sea, for which the German developer is preparing a Natura 2000 permit application.
“Despite difficult winter conditions in the Baltic Sea, the project reached this important milestone before the end of the year with the Dutch contractor N-Sea Group and the ship Hydrograf. The offshore site and the cable corridors were studied during the offshore campaign ”RWE said via social media.
The data collected through these surveys will be used to continue the licensing process and to further develop the project, according to RWE project manager Anton Andersson.
RWE plans to obtain the necessary permits in 2024/25, subject to the authorization process going as planned, and have the offshore wind farm operational in 2027/2028.
With between 100 and 120 wind turbines and an expected installed capacity of up to 1.6 GW, the Södra Midsjöbanken offshore wind farm would have an annual output of 6.5 TWh and could supply 5% of Sweden’s total electricity consumption, according to the report. developer.
The project would include wind turbines with a capacity of between 15 MW and 20 MW each and would connect to the Swedish grid at Nybro, near Kalmar.
The site under study for the wind farm is located at Södra Midsjöbanken, an offshore bank located in the middle of the south-eastern Baltic Sea, at water depths between 15 and 35 meters. The site is located approximately 70 kilometers southeast of the southern tip of Öland and approximately 90 kilometers northwest of the northernmost coast of Poland.
Project requested to add a Natura 2000 permit
First plans and investigations of the project started in 2006 with E.ON Wind Sweden exploring the options for the establishment of a large offshore wind farm in southern Sweden. It is now RWE, as the company has taken over all of E.ON’s main renewable energy activities in an asset swap started in 2019 and completed last year.
Initially, Södra Midsjöbanken, Norra Midsjöbanken and Hoburgs Bank were considered as potential areas for the construction of offshore wind farms. However, preliminary investigations had shown that Södra Midsjöbanken was favorable in terms of the coexistence of environmental assets and wind energy.
In 2007, the company received a survey license for bed sampling, peak pressure sounding and drilling at Södra Midsjöbanken, which was valid until March 2012. The validity of the license was subsequently extended. until 2018 due to the anticipated need for additional surveys. for the establishment of a wind farm in accordance with an application for a construction and operating permit filed in February 2012.
In December 2016, authorities designated an area of over 10,500 square kilometers in the Baltic Sea as a Special Protection Area (SPA) under the Birds Directive. A year later, the same area was designated as a Site of Community Importance (SCI) in accordance with the Species and Habitats Directive. The area includes the offshore banks Hoburgs Bank, Norra Midsjöbanken and parts of Södra Midsjöbanken as well as parts of the south bed of Öland, which is a smaller offshore bank.
In March 2019, the Swedish environment ministry has requested that RWE’s request for the authorization to build and operate an offshore wind farm in Södra Midsjöbanken be completed by a Natura 2000 license.
In December of the same year, the maritime plans of the Swedish Maritime Administration for the Gulf of Bothnia, the Baltic Sea and the North Sea indicated Södra Midsjöbanken as an investigation site for energy harvesting in relation to nature and defense interests. The two offshore banks Hoburgs Bank and Norra Midsjöbanken have priority for the interests of the natural environment.
The Natura 2000 permit application includes the carrying out of additional surveys and surveys, as well as an environmental impact study (EIA) which describes the results of the surveys and the solutions envisaged to ensure a favorable state of conservation. protected species and habitats.
Wider RWE screening area
In a consultation response relating to the request for the construction of a wind farm on the site, objections have been filed relative to a specific location within the bank off Södra Midsjöbanken, indicating that this location could have a potential impact on the designated habitats and species of the adjacent Natura 2000 site.
Following the response, RWE extended the investigation site also include deeper offshore areas, mainly west of Södra Midsjöbanken, which could potentially locate the wind farm in whole or in part within the boundaries of the Natura 2000 site.
“Assessments from experts and reference organizations indicate that such a location might be preferable with regard to the life of wintering birds at the Natura 2000 site, in particular the persimmon duck, which head to the actual offshore soil. at depths less than about 20 to 30 meters’RWE said in a May 2020 consultation document.
The company stated that before applying for the Natura 2000 permit, it had been examine the possibility of adjusting the location of the wind farm within the extended investigation site, in order to minimize the impact on the natural assets of the area and a certain number of investigations carried out between 2019 and 2020 for this purpose.
The wind farm investigation site is made up of two areas covering approximately 490 square kilometers, in which alternative locations for the wind farm are investigated, with the wind farm itself expected to occupy an area of around 200 square kilometers.
The results of geotechnical and geophysical studies of seabed conditions and foundation criteria within the study site, as well as studies of the natural assets of the area which are carried out before the submission of the Natura 2000 application, determine which wind farm locations are viable and appropriate on the survey site, RWE said in the document.
The extent to which the wind farm will be located within the boundaries of the Natura 2000 site depends on its final location. Parts of the cable corridor, which will connect the farm site to the Swedish coast in the south-eastern part of Småland, are located on the Natura 2000 site.
The potential locations at the investigation site, as well as the ultimately selected alternative, will be described in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA), which will also contain alternative locations for the project elsewhere.