Update 2006. In June 2007, the owners of Windenergiepark Udenhausen-Mariendorf will celebrate paying off the ten-year loan on the turbines. If you’re in the vicinity of Kassel, you may want to join the celebration.
Udenhausen-Mariendorf is a cluster of five Vestas V44s on 53 meter tall towers. This cluster is one of two clusters of five turbines each just northeast of the central German city of Kassel. The turbines are located in the Mittelgebirge in Germany’s central highlands. Ridgetops in the region are wooded and often publicly protected forests or open space. The turbines themselves are on an intermediate ridge within a broad valley bounded by the higher mittlegebirge. The site has an annual average wind speed of 5 m/s at 15 meters or about 6 m/s at hub height. Michael Durstewitz, one of the founding members of the cooperative of 65 shareholders, estimates that each turbine will generate about 1 million kWh annually. Vestas estimates substantially more, but Durstewitz, who works at ISET and has access to data from 1,500 wind turbines in Germany, is more cautious. The cooperative’s financial projections are based on his estimates.
Dedication of Udenhausen-Mariendorf was a celebration of life with all ages and plenty of beer, würst, and music.
Windenergiepark Udenhausen-Mariendorf is a beautifully completed project in the middle of a rapeseed field. Transformers are housed in a compact, low-profile, attractive prefab container and all lines are buried–even the line to the 20 kV interconnection 2.5 kilometers away. The interconnection cost 250,000 DM ($150,000). Durstewitz says this is typical for a project of this size: a buried 20 kV line costs about 100 DM/meter ($60/meter or $20/foot).
Durstewitz estimates that the project has an 8 year payback, including the first two years when debt service is not required for a project of this type.
Land for the project was bought from the farmer. Shares of the project were sold for 2,500 DM each ($1,500). The share price was kept low so more local people could participate. Durstewitz feels that the number of shareholders is a manageable size. Most of the investors live in the surrounding villages, though some live in Kassel, the nearest urban center (200,000 inhabitants).
Shares provided 30% of the total investment. DtA, through the local bank (Raiffeisenbank Reinhardswald e.G), provided a loan for 45%. And the state of Hesse provided a 25% capital investment subsidy.
Unlike other similar projects, the wind plant owns the land on which the turbines stand. They do not rent the land.
The turbines were installed April 15, 1996 and the project held an open house (Öffentlichtag) on Saturday May 11, 1996 in conjunction with the annual meeting of IWB. About 2,000 attended. Many sat at long tables inside a big tent or huddled around the wurst and beer stand outside. Despite the cold and wind, locals from nearby villages were literally walking (some in traditional Trachten attire) and riding their bikes along the footpaths to the celebration while the volunteer fire brigade directed traffic. There must have been a dozen bicycles leaning against one transformer shed.