Good things come to those who wait.
Green power from Albringhausen, at last
More than six years have passed since the first talks were held with the city of Bassum about the expansion of the existing wind farm between Albringhausen, Hallstedt and Menninghausen.
Now the project, in which WestWind ENERGY is the project developer and operator, can be implemented after an elaborate and long approval process.
In April of this year, approval was granted in accordance with the Federal Immission Control Act for the construction and operation of seven GE 4.5/5.3-158 wind turbines. The turbines complement the existing park and, with an output of up to 5.3 megawatts, a rotor diameter of 158 meters and a hub height of 161 meters, now supply green electricity from the region. The approval was preceded by an extensive process in which changes to the Bassum municipality’s wind land use plan played a role, as did local residents. Among other things, there were concerns about noise pollution and shadow flicker. In the course of the proceedings, WestWind ENERGY was able to make it clear time and again that the specific regulations of the Federal Immission Control Act would be implemented and complied with. In addition, the seven new turbines are equipped with shutdown modules that calculate the shadow path.
The concerns and objections of the citizens, however, related primarily to the protection of avifauna. In particular, the red kite was the focus of attention, which resulted in what is probably the most comprehensive environmental report that WestWind ENERGY has ever prepared for a procedure. During the faunistic inventories, which lasted over 4 years, the mapping was carried out by renowned experts. Among others, ARSU GmbH was involved. The experts have provided expert support for more than 150 planning and research projects since the early 1980s (www.arsu.de).
Birds of prey and large birds are particularly sensitive to wind turbines. Therefore, the experts used different methods for the mapping in Albringhausen:
– Flight activities were recorded (in each of the 4 years) over 150 days
– Identification of breeding sites within a radius of up to 4,000 meters around the planned expansion areas
– Nest search and monitoring in the wooded areas before the breeding season, in June and after the end of the breeding season within a radius of up to 4,000 meters.
– Search for eagle owl breeding sites within a radius of up to 3,000 meters
– Recording of resting and migrating cranes
– Recording of red-listed species within a radius of 500 meters around the planned turbine sites.
For four years in a row, however, no nests with red kite breeding and no red kites with behavior close to the breeding site have been sighted on the expansion areas in Albringhausen. Sightings by local residents in recent years have not yielded any other results.
Current studies of telemetered red kites over 3 years (over 800,000 location points!) by NABU, among others, on behalf of the Hessian Ministry of the Environment (final report 09/2019) show that red kites are active to 73 % in the 1,500m radius around an eyrie, to 81 % of the flights below 100 m and to 72 % of the flights below 75 m fly. Only up to about 5% of flights occur above 3,000m from the eyrie. The 95% action area of a red kite was at its maximum over 4,000 hectares! During the whole period of investigation, no flights of transmittered animals were detected in the immediate danger zone of the WT (passage of the rotors).
These findings are also confirmed by current investigations by WestWind ENERGY in 2019 as part of the testing of a bird detection system accompanied by a laser tracking measuring device in an existing wind farm with a red kite nest at a distance of 500m from the wind turbines. WestWind ENERGY will use these systems after testing, if necessary, to virtually eliminate collision risks – even below the significance threshold.
The Albringhausen wind farm has already successfully participated in the tendering process according to EEG 2017 in May this year. The start of construction was notified to the approval authority in December 2019.
By the way:
According to the German Wind Energy Association (BWE), around 11,000 megawatts are stuck in approval procedures nationwide. Another 4,000 megawatts are blocked by prescribed distances from air traffic control rotating beacons. 800 megawatts of already granted permits are being challenged in court.