Bavaria’s Largest Citizen-Owned Wind Farm Ready For Grid Connection
Bavaria’s largest citizen-owned wind farm
Bavaria has long been the leading state in Germany when it comes to photovoltaics, but it has been a straggler in wind power. But now, Berching has finished connecting the largest community-owned wind farm in the state to the grid. The community of 1,200 provided development firm Windpower GmbH with a third of the capital needed.
The six wind turbines collectively have a capacity of nearly 20 megawatts and are expected to produce around 47 gigawatts-hours per year. Four of the turbines belong to local citizenry, with the other two owned by Max Bögl AG, which is also responsible for tower construction. The project built its own transformer station with a connection capacity of 50 megawatts for the grid connection. Until grid operator Eon Netz has provided a proper grid connection, however, the wind farm will only export power at a reduced level.
In a press release, Windpower GmbH, the project firm, says that the wind farm will generate the equivalent of 150 percent of Berching’s power supply. The firm also says that the expected 47 million kilowatt-hours of power each year are enough to provide “around 40,000 citizens with clean energy.” The firm conservatively estimates around 2,500 full-load hours per year.
The citizens set up a wind fund, and local energy cooperatives brought together around 12 million euros, just over 30 percent of the total investment sum. Windpower GmbH got a loan for the remaining 70 percent from Umweltbank Nürnberg, which is already worked with the developer on several projects.
Construction began in April, but the project started a long time ago. The first contact with Windpower GmbH came about more than 10 years ago, but it was hard to find the right turbine for the site, which does not have excellent wind conditions, for a long time, according to Johannes Ehbauer, who handled project financing. At an elevation of 150 meters, the average wind velocity is only 6.5 meters per second.
In the end, Repower’s 3.2MW114 was chosen. The 3.2 megawatt turbine with a rotor diameter of 114 meters has not even been on the market for a year. Repower installs it on 143-meter-tall hybrid towers. Because of its larger swept area, the rotor can get enough energy from even weak wind to generate electricity. (Melanie Vogelpohl / Craig Morris)