Merkur Offshore Wind Farm – Google Brochure
Also known as MEG Offshore 1, the Merkur Offshore Wind Farm is a burgeoning renewable energy site, lying within Germany’s territorial waters. The project is located 60km offshore in the North Sea, and represents a significant investment for its 5 owners and a welcome energy utility for the 500,000 homes it serves. The joint venture behind the wind farm is comprised of DEME Concessions Wind NV and the Windreiche Group of companies (trading together as Merkur Offshire GmbH) and has utilised GE Renewable Energy’s (GE Energy or GE) wind turbines.
The 66 turbines provided by GE Energy are capable of generating 1,750 GWh each year and collectively will provide 400MW of power. GE ‘s Haliade 150-6MW turbines boast a 150 meter rotor blade circumference (where each blade is 73.50 meters long) and a single installation is sufficient to provide power to 5,000 average or typical European homes.
Located 45km north of the Borkum Islands, the Merkur Offshore Wind Farm is one a several wind power developments in the area and an important element in Germany’s plans to achieve its renewable energy targets.
Merkur Wind Farm Prepares for Construction Phase
It’s no secret that Germany is striving to improve its renewable energy profile. In 2016, Germany grew its clean energy supply to meet 29.5 per cent of the country’s energy needs. Of this, 5.9 per cent is generated through solar power installations; two per cent through offshore wind; 10.3 per cent comes from onshore wind farms; seven per cent from biomass; and 3.3 per cent from hydroelectric plants, with less than one per cent coming from waste to energy programmes.
Now, the pre-construction phase of the Merkur Wind Farm is well underway, and the 66-turbine wind farm with an estimated cost of €1.6 billion will contribute significantly to Germany’s offshore wind energy generation capacity. InDepth NRG investigates.
Merkur Wind Farm Facts
Merkur Wind Farm is a joint venture between DEME Concessions Wind NV and the Windreich Group of companies. DEME Concessions is known for its dredging, land reclamation, and offshore wind energy projects. The company has already participated in the construction of the Thornton Bank Wind Farm, Belgium’s largest, and has partnered with Otary for the development of Rentel, Seastar, and Mermaid off the Belgian coast.
Windreich develops and finances on- and offshore wind farms with a focus on the German energy market. Prior to the announcement of its partnership with DEME in 2015, it was solely responsible for the development of the Merkur Wind Farm.
Haliade 150-6MW turbines from GE Energy have already been chosen for the wind farm, and the 66 turbines and the 396MW wind farm will generate enough energy to power 280,469 German homes, eliminating over 566,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions annually.
Merkur will be located 45km North of Bokrum in a North Sea economic zone with favourable seabed conditions at a depth of 27–33m and reliably strong winds. When complete, it will be among Germany’s largest North Sea wind farms.
Progress to Date
Merkur announced that it had reached financial close in August 2016 after raising the required €1.6 billion capital investment required for the project. 500 million was contributed by The Partners Group consortium of sponsors which now holds 50 per cent equity, while InfraRed Capital Partners secured a 25 per cent share, and DEME’s investment group obtaining 12.5 per cent equity. Other financial stakeholders include GE Energy Financial Services and the French state-owned energy company ADEME with 6.25 per cent equity each.
GE Renewable Energy is particularly pleased that its Haliade turbines have been chosen for the Merkur Wind Farm. Speaking after the financial close, Jérôme Pécresse, President and CEO of GE Renewable Energy said: “This is a significant milestone for both the Merkur Offshore project and the European offshore wind industry. Securing this funding ensures the first large-scale commercial deployment of our state-of-the-art Haliade 150-6MW offshore wind turbine in Europe. The Merkur project also signals our continued commitment to the development of offshore wind farms around the world.”
Referring to Germany’s aggressive move away from non-renewable energy sources which has led to the closure of several coal-fired and nuclear power stations, Brandon Prater, Partner and Co-Head Private Infrastructure with the Partners Group observed: “Merkur is a timely project and will contribute towards maintaining the country’s energy supply, while catering to the long-term shift towards renewables in the power generation mix.”
“With our investments in the Merkur project, DEME continues to be at the forefront of offshore wind energy developments in Germany and beyond,” said Alain Bernard, Director and Chief Executive Officer of the DEME Group. “GeoSea, DEME’s specialist in complex offshore marine engineering projects, will realise the construction of Merkur Offshore. Our specialist team in Bremen will play a major role in the execution of the project.”
Construction and Innovation
The planned commencement date for Merkur is 2017 with the completion date set for March 2019. Implementing its existing expertise, GeoSea – a subsidiary of DEME Concessions – will install the new generation XL monopiles and accompanying scour protection. DEME will also undertake cable laying operations. It will be assisted by the UK-based SeaRoc Group which will provide its SeaPlanner integrated personnel and vessel tracking software and access control hardware. The technology has recently been upgraded to feature enhanced mapping functionality, metocean data feeds and helicopter tracking features.
The Haliade turbines to be used for the Merkur Wind Farm are gearless and feature GE Power Conversion’s new converters within the turbines’ towers and this feature saves €13 million in assembly costs. After turbine installation, GE will be responsible for turbine maintenance. In addition, GE Power Conversion will be developing the offshore substation, which will not only process power from the Merkur Wind Farm, but also from other wind farms nearby. Ultimately, it will be processing the energy produced by 300 turbines.
Paul Hennemeyer, Managing Director for Global Markets at GE Financial Services, says that the Merkur project publicity is already exciting interest in the Haliade turbine: “People are now taking GE seriously in the offshore wind market, and we are getting calls about doing other projects.”
A Wind Farm Worth Waiting For
Although the Merkur Wind Farm has been off to a slow start, owing to initial planning and financial constraints, it has overcome these challenges, and five years after its approval by the German Government, nothing remains to obstruct its progress. Financing has been secured, and its shareholders, DEME and GE Energy, have the technical wherewithal to ensure successful project completion.
The Merkur Wind Farm will consolidate Germany’s position as the world’s leading proponent of transition from fossil-fuel-based energy to clean energy. It has committed to some of the most aggressive emissions reduction targets ever considered and aims to reduce emissions by 80 per cent by 2050. Germany will be expanding its offshore wind energy generation capacity substantially in the coming years as it aims to obtain 33 per cent of its energy from this source. The Merkur Wind Farm is a significant step towards this goal, and it seems almost inevitable that both GE Energy and DEME will be important players in Germany’s future wind energy projects.