This wind project can still hit 4GW’: thirst for green power rekindles Markbygden ambition

New demand means giant wind project in northern Sweden could yet reach original target, says Wolfgang Kropp, chief executive of developer Svevind

The giant Markbygden 1101 onshore wind project in northern Sweden could still eventually reach 4GW of installed capacity and take its place as one of the world’s biggest turbine complexes – on land or sea – the developer behind it told Recharge. German lead developer Svevind from the outset envisaged a capacity of 4GW for the project west of the northern Swedish city of Piteå. But German wind turbine manufacturer Enercon, which has developed and supplied machines to some of Markbygden’s sub-projects in 2019 was more cautions, saying such a massive size might be too ambitious. Now Svevind thinks the time has come to think big again, partly as new potential energy buyers in the battery storage and green steelmaking sector have increased the thirst for power in the region.

“Just very recently we could announce that Markbygden 1101 reached the giant milestone of 1GW of operational wind farms,” Svevind majority owner and chief executive Wolfgang Kropp said in an interview.

“As of now, another about 1.5GW are under construction in all three phases of the project. We still believe that Markbygden 1101 will finally grow to the 4GW in rated power.”

Although the grid connection capacity of the Swedish transmission system operator currently would limit the project to 3.4GW, Kropp reckons that will increase with stepped-up investments as power consumption in northern Sweden rises to cater for the needs of consumers and facilities that produce green fuels or hydrogen.

“We assume that Markbygden 1101 will finally become one of the largest wind farms in the world, noting that 2.5GW are either operational or under construction. “One needs to remember that Markbygden 1101 is one single site, [being only] technically and permitting-wise divided into three stages and then multiple investment phases.”

Boom to go on
Kropp said Sweden in general has shown how to deliver ultra-low levelised costs of energy (LCOE) when compared to other markets, echoing recent statements from other developers and wind turbine OEMs, who believe the current Nordic wind power boom will continue. Available areas in the sparsely populated Nordic region, as well as very good wind conditions and grid capacity, are all competitive advantages for northern Sweden, he confirmed.

“With increasing electricity demand induced by new major consumers like the Northvolt battery factory or Hybrit’s green steel production, we trust that northern Sweden and wind power in this region will benefit.” Kropp declined to comment whether Svevind is in talks to supply Northvolt or the Vattenfall-led Hybrit consortium to produce fossil-free steel on the basis of green hydrogen produced from wind power.

But Northvolt recently told Recharge that cheap hydro and wind power in the region is one of the reasons for building its giant first battery cell factory in northern Sweden – making a possible link between Markbygden and Northvolt likely.

Energy transition laboratory
Asked whether Markbygden is functioning like a laboratory for the world’s energy transition, Kropp said:

“Yes, definitely. … Today Svevind is proud to be able to use our Swedish experience to help transform the energy supply in other parts of the world too.” “Svevind is now also developing dedicated green hydrogen and green ammonia projects as we strongly believe all available energy sources will be needed to realise the energy transition and decarbonisation of all sectors of our modern societies and economies.”

The company just announced it has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the Kazakh investment promotion agency that envisages the development of 45GW of wind and solar farms in the steppes of the central Asian country, which are slated to fuel 30GW of electrolysers to produce massive amounts of green hydrogen.Meanwhile in Sweden, Markbygden – in development since 2002 – is once more changing its face.

Svevind has applied for a new permit for the 600-800MW Hästliden sub-project that is formally part of the third phase of Markbygden 1101. When the developer received a governmental framework permit for the entire project, a maximum total height of 200 metres was envisaged.

“Nowadays with large rotor diameter of 170 metres and more and tower heights of beyond 160 metres, the existing 200 metre restriction means that it would not be possible to utilise the latest technology with lowest possible LCoE. Hence, we decided to apply for a new permit for up to 300 metre total height,” Kropp said. But the CEO added: “We do not expect that this increased total height will significantly increase the total capacity of Markbygden 1101 as the distances between those extra-large wind turbines will also increase.”

Original article by Bernd Radowitz, RECHARGE – link to article (click here)