GERMANY To plan and construct an offshore wind farm is not an easy task. The team behind DanTysk, which was officially inaugurated on 30 April, knows the ups and downs of such a major project perfectly well.

Vattenfall’s CEO Magnus Hall attended the DanTysk inauguration ceremony in Hamburg together with Sigmar Gabriel, German Federal Minister for Economic Affairs and Mikael Damberg, Swedish Minister for Enterprise.

Hall said:
“Offshore wind has become an ever more important energy source for our company. Vattenfall is today the second largest operator of offshore wind in the world. Together, we are on our way to transforming the energy system. As part of this ambition, DanTysk is an important milestone; for Germany, for Europe – and definitely for us at Vattenfall.”

The North Sea wind farm is a joint venture with German municipal energy company Stadtwerke München. It is located 70 kilometres west of Sylt Island and will generate renewable electricity equivalent to the annual consumption of more than 400,000 households.

Offshore project expert
Ole Bigum Nielsen, Offshore Project Director at Vattenfall, knows more than most about planning and constructing an offshore wind farm.

Part of his record is managing the construction of Thanet off the south east coast of England – the world’s largest offshore wind farm when it was commissioned in 2010 – that overcame some serious challenges on its way to completion.

Delays and money problems
When Bigum Nielsen assumed the position as project director for DanTysk by the end of 2013, the project was facing some grave problems.

The wind farm was originally planned to be fully commissioned early 2014.
“By the end of 2013 we had massive delays in all packages and a substantial overspend of money. On 31 December that year I had to decide to terminate a contract with the cable installation supplier.”

The financial situation forced Bigum Nielsen to ask Vattenfall’s Executive Group Management, EGM, for a larger budget to be able to go ahead with the project.
"The good news is that DanTysk today is a healthy project that we all can be proud of to have in Vattenfall’s portfolio and that we can bring some of the extra money back to the Group.”

“Domino effects”
One particular problem, which was out of the hands of Bigum Nielsen to solve, has a substantial part to play in explaining why the DanTysk project was delayed.
“Tennet – the grid company – didn’t provide the grid connection as promised which caused a delay of more than a year. In a project like this one, delays have domino effects. We had to postpone turbine installation to mitigate negative effects. We didn’t want the turbines out there while not generating electricity.”

Team effort
Roughly 60 persons, mainly based in Hamburg, have worked with the DanTysk project and Ole Bigum Nielsen, being reluctant to contemplate over his abilities as a problem solver, chooses to emphasise the team effort when he is asked to point out success factors.
“All the energy and enthusiasm everyone showed was crucial to get the project back into shape. A good relationship with your suppliers is very important to succeed with an offshore project. To me personally, the trust that Vattenfall placed in DanTysk, has been very important.”

Lessons learned
The lessons from DanTysk are now being used in the Sandbank project where Vattenfall together with Stadtwerke München is constructing a 288 MW offshore wind farm close to the DanTysk site in the North Sea.

Several people in the DanTysk team have moved directly over to work with Sandbank.
“We have an excellent team in place for Sandbank with Niels Bjaert as project director. We have also contracted a group of really good suppliers. You will always meet challenges in offshore projects but I’m confident that we are in a good position to tackle them.”

“Regarding DanTysk, it has been important to me to get the project back on track and to be able to inaugurate it now. DanTysk is an important proof of Vattenfall’s direction towards more renewable energy production and the wind farm is something for all of us to be proud of.”

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