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By 2025, Munich plans to be the first metropolis in the world to be entirely self-sufficient in renewable energy – thanks to the power of offshore wind.
One of the most important economic centers in Germany has taken a leap into the future with what could be a tremendously important new benchmark for energy use in Europe.
Munich, the capital of Bavaria, Germany, has 800,000 households, industrial firms, streetcars, and subways that consume 7.5 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity every year. Now, the city has set an ambitious climate and environmental protection target: By 2025 it wants to be the first city in the world to cover its entire electricity needs using renewable power – from its own systems.
Stadtwerke München (SWM), Munich’s public utility and Germany’s largest municipal energy provider, is adopting an entirely new approach as part of its renewable energies expansion campaign. The company started with activities in Munich and the surrounding areas – but it soon became clear that it needed to expand the project to a broader, European level.
It [also] became evident that wind was the most suitable form of renewable energy for our purposes.
Offshore wind energy emerged as the clear solution to the company’s goals because it is an area where significant progress with individual projects could be made. SWM’s systems are taking shape where the best use can be made of renewable power on a large scale – as there is no need to generate electricity in the immediate vicinity of where it will be consumed. Instead, it simply needs to be fed into the supraregional high-voltage grid.
One example of how this is being applied is the DanTysk offshore wind project, 70 kilometers west of the island of Sylt, where a total of 80 Siemens SWT 3.6-120 wind turbines generate 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity per year. The systems were installed in 2014 and the wind power plant sent its first power to shore in December of the same year.
To date, the DanTysk project, operated as a joint venture between Vattenfall and SWM, is one of the largest German offshore wind power plants in the North Sea. Vattenfall is one of Europe’s leading energy companies and has experience in offshore wind with the test project Alpha Ventus. Like SWM, the company is convinced that offshore wind is an important energy source for the future.
Gunnar Groebler, head of the Renewables Business Unit at Vattenfall, says that the organization believes in reshaping the energy landscape in favor of green energy generation: “Offshore wind power is one of the cornerstones of the transition to a new energy mix, especially in Northern Europe,” he says.
When the organization enters into major projects, especially those involving unfamiliar technology, Vattenfall chooses partners experienced with the necessary technology, which makes a substantial difference to the project's outcome.
SWM believes likewise in the role relationships have in its success. The organization actively fosters relationships with business partners and aims to achieve “win-win situations” for customers, suppliers, and partners. When approaching the development of DanTysk, all partners involved agreed that working together for sustainable rather than short-term results was key.
Even the name of the DanTysk project reveals its partner-based, international nature: it is a compound of “Danmark” and “Tyskland”, the Danish words for “Denmark” and “Germany”.
By 2050, the proportion of electricity generated from renewables in Germany is expected to rise from its current level of 23 percent to 80 percent. Offshore wind has a major part to play in this. Because the wind on the open sea is comparatively strong and constant, wind power plants constructed there are able to compete with the capacity of conventional power stations. This is why the construction of wind power plants in German waters with an installed capacity totaling 6.5 GW is planned by 2020, with an additional 8.5 GW by 2030.
As an industrial and business location, Germany also benefits from this development: More than €1 billion has been invested so far in the production facilities and infrastructure for offshore wind, and about 18,000 people work in this area. Offshore wind power thus provides key economic stimuli as well as making an important contribution to the success of the German energy transition.
A versatile supplier was needed for DanTysk to be a success: a supplier capable of mastering complex offshore construction projects that also offered a wind turbine and maintenance solution to satisfy all operational and service requirements.
In choosing a suitable partner to supply turbines, the determining criterion was not just the quality of the technology itself, but also integrated experience, performance ability, and reliability. That’s why the consortium opted for the geared Siemens’ SWT 3.6-120 wind turbines.In the offshore wind industry, Siemens has deservedly earned the reputation for having the most reliable technology - with a total installed capacity of over 8.5 GW by end of 2016 - the broadest skill set, the deepest experience (since 1991) on which the industry can bank. As the only provider with practical experience covering the entire lifecycle of an offshore wind park, the companies knew Siemens was the logical choice.
In addition to supplying the turbines, Siemens is responsible for providing a five-year service contract that covers all maintenance and installation work on the wind turbines, and also supplies the turnkey grid connection for DanTysk. This system, known as SylWin1 and operated by transmission grid operator TenneT, creates the connection between the wind power plant on the open sea and the German power network.
The energy generated by DanTysk is fed into the grid in Büttel, in Schleswig-Holstein, a long distance from Munich. Even so, electricity customers in Munich still enjoy the benefit of sustainably generated electricity.
“The electricity that consumers draw from the socket in Germany reflects the mix of power that exists in the country today. It includes both conventional and renewable energy. The more renewable energy fed into the power network, the more there is to reach the consumers, and the less conventional energy is both fed in and consumed,” explains Vattenfall’s Groebler.
That also means that SWM can substantially decrease the amount of conventional electricity that it feeds into the grid. “Our share, just under half of the electricity that is generated, is enough to supply about 250,000 households in Munich,” explains Bieberbach. Overall, DanTysk can generate enough green energy for up to 400,000 households in Germany.
Constructing an offshore wind power plant on the open sea is a challenging project. DanTysk’s foundations, set in the seafloor at a depth of 21 to 32 meters, form the base for the wind turbines, taking the total height to 148 meters. The DanTysk wind power plant consists of 80 Siemens SWT 3.6-120 wind turbines, supplying up to 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to German households.