What's next for Middelgrunden?

In: Windfarms
Owners are considering the future of the Middelgrunden offshore wind farm after 20 years of operation. Part owner Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug held an investor meeting last month to discuss options for extension and repowering.

Located in the Øresund, 3.5 km outside Copenhagen, Denmark, the 40 MW
Middelgrunden project features 20 2 MW B76/2000 (Bonus) turbines and has been operational since 2000. The wind farm is a collaboration between Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug and HOFOR, with each party responsible for the ownership and operation of 10 turbines.

Over the past couple of years the turbines have been showing their age with frequent faults such as defective bearings in auxiliary motors, defective pumps, breakdown of hydraulics, and faults in control circuits. With the wind farm nearing the end of its lifetime, and the concession due to expire in 2025, Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug has been in conversation with HOFOR regarding the future of the project since early 2019.

A working group has been set up to shed light on various scenarios. Three options under consideration include:
1. decommissioning of the wind farm at the end of the concession;
2. renovation of the existing wind turbines;
3. repowering i.e.  installation of new wind turbines.

Following intense negotiations in November/December 2019, HOFOR announced in February 2020 that it would go its own way and examine the possibilities for moving forward with repowering its 10 turbines. HOFOR reportedly "would very much like to start with EIA investigations regarding the installation of new wind turbines".

Likely to go down a different route, Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug's deputy chairman, Per Vølund, has remarked support for "recycled turbines" by renovating the existing models. Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug have been in contact with turbine suppliers and conclude that smaller models are no longer being produced by Siemens Gamesa or MHI Vestas. To install more powerful turbines would require larger foundations which is considered uneconomical and air traffic limits the installation of much larger turbines.

Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug have applied to the Danish Energy Agency for an extension to the concession period by 5 years, so that it can operate the wind turbines until end-2030. According to Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug it is unlikely to have made enough savings for a dismantling campaign in 2022. The extension will give Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug additional time to earn financial resources necessary for any decommissioning or repowering plans.

At the investor meeting Middelgrundens Vindmøllelaug also reflected on the year so far. Accounts for the first half of 2020 currently look "really bad due to the low electricity prices during the pandemic." However, Per Vølund reports that they are moving forward with an adjusted budget and that the turbines continue to operate well and should still generate sufficiently during the remainder of the year.

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