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The start of the use of offshore wind energy in a relevant order of magnitude can be established as 2010 for Germany. This was the year when, after a long planning and construction phase, the offshore test field Alpha Ventus was officially inaugurated. Numerous legal, technical, financial and political issues and impediments had to be cleared up and resolved before this milestone could be reached. The long journey until the first kilowatt-hour could be supplied from a wind farm far out in the North Sea had already begun in 1999 with the first plans for the project Offshore Windpark Borkum West [Johnsen].


Important intermediate stages included several nearshore turbines. These are sited between a few metres up to several hundred metres from the shore. The objective of these projects was primarily to build and test the construction, operation and maintenance of new technology under new site conditions, namely in water, before the risk was taken to attempt this new and little-tried technology out in the exposed sea. These projects designated as nearshore were not classified as offshore plants in German law (EEG). The differentiation between nearshore and farshore was adopted from the definition in the law governing the expansion of renewable energies (Renewable Energy Sources Act – EEG 2017) §3 (49) [EEG 2017] in combination with §3 (7) of the »Law governing the development and promotion of offshore wind energy (Windenergie-auf-See-Gesetz – WindSeeG)« [WindSeeG]. The title offshore wind turbine applies in accordance with the definitions in the EEG for »… any plant used for the generation of electricity from wind energy that is erected at least three sea miles out at sea measured seawards from the coastline …« Three sea miles corresponds to a distance of 5.6 kilometres. This definition has been adopted as standard in this work regardless of any possible contrary definitions used in other countries. The table gives an overview of the nearshore wind turbines erected in German waters.




Project Location Water depth / m

Distance from shore / km

Enova Emden 3 0,01 Enercon E112-4,5
Breitling near Rostock 2 0,5 Nordex N90/2500
BARD Hooksiel 5 0,5 BARD5


Overview of the nearshore wind turbines erected in Germany



Other important milestones in the use of offshore wind energy were the three research platforms in the North and Baltic Seas, FINO 1, FINO 2 and FINO 3. These measuring stations gathered data on environmental conditions out at sea, such as wind, waves, current, etc., from which it was possible to gain valuable knowledge for the application and further research of offshore wind energy. More information about the research platforms FINO 1, FINO 2 and FINO 3 is provided in the section on wind and wave conditions later on in this chapter.