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August 27, 2012

Offshore Wind Parks in the Baltic Draw 50Hertz, Investors



The issue of power generation is growing increasingly urgent. With supplies of many fossil fuels beginning to look tenuous, and recent calamities making nuclear power look like less of a fair-haired boy and more like a fair-haired monster, many have wondered if at least part of the planet's fuel-generating capacity may not come from wind power.

That's just the direction one of Germany's primary power network operators, 50Hertz, is looking in, as the firm and its investors are turning their attention to the Baltic, based on remarks made at the annual Handelsblatt renewable energy conference earlier today.

Investment is progressing, according to Boris Schucht of 50Hertz, from the North Sea – where winds are a lot stronger – to the Baltic Sea, where winds are substantially milder. Though this may sound counter-intuitive, milder, more regular winds make more sense for development, as in some cases excessively high-speed winds can damage wind turbine systems.

Still, the Baltic winds are sufficient that 50Hertz expects offshore capacity from the German part of the Baltic to reach 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts over the course of the next 10 years – up substantially from the 50 megawatts it's currently yielding.

So far, just 128 megawatts of German wind power have been connected to the grid.

While the value of taking advantage of a free power supply like the wind seems like a great way to make a profit, the sizes of the installations necessary to harness that wind, as well as the logistics involved in the care and feeding of said installations, make profitability uncertain over anything but the longest terms.

While power is indeed a valuable commodity, no one can know just how much wind will blow, so projecting the time to profitability is pretty much impossible.

Admittedly, wind power is not reliable. Currents blow in different directions and in different amounts, and can never be accurately predicted over even a short period of time. But using this unreliable but free power source can certainly augment other power generation types, and make the power grid as a whole more resilient and less prone to outages.

Additionally, the extra power it could generate can represent lower power bills overall, but it can never truly take the place of other, more reliable sources of power like those generated by fossil fuels.

Still, every little bit helps, and investment in wind power should pay significant dividends by the end, generating at least some power to help a flagging overall grid. 

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Edited by Braden Becker


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