Green wind farm on Pretul Mountain begins full operation – Styria’s electricity generation capacity from wind to increase by one third – 14 state-of-the-art wind turbines to supply 22,000 households
The first wind farm run by Österreichische Bundesforste (ÖBf), Austria’s largest ecosystem manager, has gone into full operation on Pretul Mountain in the federal state Styria. With 14 wind turbines and an annual electricity generation of some 84 gigawatt hours (GWh), the wind farm will be Styria’s highest-output wind farm yet. At around 1,600 metres above sea level, the site atop the Pretul is especially windy. The Pretul wind farm will be able to supply electricity to 22,000 households and cut CO2 emissions by around 74,000 metric tons annually (based on the share of the ENTSO-E mix and replacement of fossil fuels).
“As an organisation that helps manage our natural environment, we support energy production from renewable sources and we contribute to achieve national energy objectives”, says ÖBf-CFO Georg Schöppl, who is also responsible for real estate and renewable energy. The wind farm performed well during the initial months of testing last year. “The wind conditions in the first couple of months of winter were much better than forecast, and we were able to increase the turbines’ availability every day”, Schöppl continued, delighted by the results. “The wind farm generated much more electricity during the test phase than expected.” The Pretul wind farm is scheduled to officially go into service in summer 2017, once ecological restoration activities have been completed.
Construction on schedule and under budget
According to Schöppl “construction was on schedule, despite unfavourable weather conditions, including high winds, fog and precipitation. All 14 wind turbines were built in just five months and construction costs came in well under budget.” With a price tag of around EUR 49 million, the Pretul wind farm is the largest investment in ÖBf’s history.
The wind farm uses special Enercon E82-E4 wind turbines with a hub height of 78 metres and a rotor diameter of 82 metres. The turbines were developed for locations with strong winds. “The wind turbines are designed to withstand the extreme cold and can operate at temperatures as low as -40° Celsius”, Schöppl explained. If ice begins to form, special sensors switch the wind turbines off. Integrated rotor blade heaters then thaw the ice at a controlled pace.
Green wind farm with an MTB trail and Alpine playground
Construction of the wind farm was accompanied by extensive environmental and tourism measures. “Designing the project to minimise its impact on the environment has been especially important to us, as a steward of our natural environment,” Schöppl said. “We have made extensive use of our expertise in nature conservation and have implemented measures that go well beyond legal requirements. For example, we conducted ecological restoration measures in the adjacent Schwarzriegelmoos nature reserve, the easternmost Alpine moor. We reclaimed some 40 hectares of pasture, improving the habitat for black grouse and capercaillie, and planted trees and shrubs common to the region, including fir, sycamore, mountain ash, grey alder and wych elm. We planted over 1,500 saplings in all in the project area.” Plans this year call for making the area more attractive to tourists. Activities include creating a mountain bike trail on the Pretul, designing a walkway and scenic lookout in the Schwarzriegelmoos reserve, and building an Alpine playground in collaboration with the Rosegger Friends-of-Nature House on the Pretulalpe. Measures are expected to be completed by autumn 2017.