Wind farm Elster Repowering

Repowering of the
Elster wind farm

A flasgship project for the
energy transition in Saxony-Anhalt

From old to new: An overview of the construction project

Saxony-Anhalt is one of the pioneers of the energy transition. Today, wind turbines with a total capacity of more than 5,100 megawatts (MW) are already connected to the grid. This includes the Elster wind farm in the Lutherstadt-Wittenberg district with an installed nominal capacity of 30 MW. This was built by the VSB Group between 2000 and 2012.

New plans for an old site

There is a fresh wind blowing at the farm. Of the 57 wind turbines, 50 are being dismantled and 16 newly built, which will generate much more electricity from wind than the old farm does now. This is possible thanks to rapid technological development. Turbines are becoming more and more powerful, so that more energy can be produced with fewer turbines. Here is an overview of the first facts about this so-called repowering.

At a glance

  • Environmentally friendly energy supply for around 150,000 people
  • 16 Siemens Gamesa SG 6.6-155 wind turbines
  • Avoidance of nearly 180,000 tonnes of CO2 per year
  • Commissioning in 2025
  • Feeding into the power grid of Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Strom mbH via its own transformer station
  • Location: Saxony-Anhalt, Wittenberg district, towns of Zahna-Elster and Jessen

Construction diary

Want to see how far the wind farm has progressed? Join us as we build! We will keep you updated on the progress.

About the wind farm

Facts and schedule

We are a forward-thinking renewable energy project developer. Every single step of our wind farm planning is based on solid experience. This gives you and us the assurance of rapid construction progress.
 

Location Town of Zahna-Elster and town of Jessen
Wind measurement Lidar measurements from 10/2017 to 09/2018
Commissioning 2025
Power supply Construction of a dedicated 110 kV high-voltage substation in the wind farm area.
Turbines 16 Siemens Gamesa SG 6.6-155 turbines
Nominal power 6,6 MW
Hub height (nacelle height) 165 Metres
Rotor blade length 77,5 Metres
Total turbine height 242,5 Metres
Switch-on speed 3 metres per second (light breeze)
Switch-off speed 27 metres per second
Connection to the supply grid The environmentally friendly energy is fed into the power grid of Mitteldeutsche Netzgesellschaft Strom GmbH via its own transformer station.
Schedule Implementation
2022 Public display and discussion
2023 Permit
2023 Participation in the tender of the German Federal Network Agency
2023 Scheduled start of construction
2025 Expected commissioning

Repowering

Repowering for Elster

At the Elster/Listerfehrda site, we will be implementing one of the most important and largest repowering projects in the region over the next few years. It is a flagship project for the energy transition in Saxony-Anhalt.

Repowering, i.e. replacing old turbines with more modern and efficient ones, means that the new wind farm will produce many times more electricity with fewer turbines. The old ENERCON E-40 turbines have a capacity of 600 kilowatts, while that figure rises to 6,600 kilowatts with the new SG 6.6-155 turbines. At the same time, the total area of the farm will be reduced by about one third.

The benefits in a nutshell

  • Fewer wind turbines
  • Turbines run at lower speed and are therefore visually quieter
  • Total area of the wind farm reduced by approximately 30%
  • 6 times more electricity.

Good to know:

Wind energy has made huge technological advances over the past two decades. The installed capacity of a turbine has increased from around 300 kilowatts to up to 7,500 kilowatts today. In terms of power and efficiency, modern turbines have little in common with their predecessors.

VSB accompanies repowering projects from dismantling to recycling and reuse with experienced partners from industry and research. We are also a founding member of RDRWind e.V., an industry association for the repowering, dismantling and recycling of wind turbines. We are committed to establishing the first standards and norms for the sustainable dismantling of wind turbines.

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Elster wind farm before repowering

The wind turbines marked in blue will be dismantled.

Elster wind farm after repowering

The wind turbines marked in blue are new.

Planning

Wind farm permit

At the beginning of a wind farm project, a site survey is carried out: what is the yield situation? Can a wind turbine be built at the chosen site? The regional plan is consulted for this purpose. If both questions can be answered in the affirmative, the site is secured and it is determined whether further adjustments are necessary under planning law. Only then does the actual procedure according to the German Federal Immission Control Act (BlmSchG) begin.

The permit includes requirements designed to ensure environmental protection and to prevent or minimise harmful effects on the environment from emissions to air, water and soil. The licensing authority examines all the requirements for the particular site and the specific type of plant. In particular, the requirements of nature conservation and species protection law, construction planning law and regional planning law are taken into account.

Public participation

The permit process for the Elster wind farm has started. The responsible authority is the Lower Immission Control Authority of the district of Wittenberg. It is planned to dismantle 49 old Enercon E40 wind turbines and to erect 16 new SG 6.6-155 wind turbines at the same site. This repowering of the old wind turbines is an essential part of the permit process according to BlmSchG, and an environmental impact assessment will be carried out for the project. The permit documents were made available to the public in the spring of 2022. Interested parties were able to view them and raise any objections. As there were only minor objections, it was possible to dispense with a public hearing, which slightly accelerated the process.

As part of the permit process, all the important issues relating to public concerns are clarified. In the case of the Elster wind farm, these include not only traditional nature conservation and immission control issues, but also project-specific concerns such as air traffic and radar.

The construction project will only commence once permit has been granted in accordance with the German Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG) and the wind farm or an individual turbine has been successfully tendered and awarded by the German Federal Network Agency (Bundesnetzagentur) for onshore wind energy.

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Good to know:

Radar

The future wind farm is located west-north-west of the radar site Holzdorf, with an average distance of approximately 21.2 kilometres between the turbines and the radar. The impact of the planned wind turbines on the radar installation is assessed in a signature technology report. The report presents measures to minimise the impact. There is also a height restriction of 319 metres above sea level (normal zero) at the proposed site. This is due to aviation concerns. As a result, special towers will be developed as special designs for the turbines in order to comply with the height restriction.

Minimum distance 1,000 metres

In the old wind farm, several existing turbines were up to 600 metres away from the villages of Gentha and Listerfehrda. We are changing that at the Elster repowering wind farm. In the future, the wind turbines will all be erected at a distance of at least 1,000 metres from settlements.

On-demand night-time marking (BNK)

In the General Administrative Regulation on the Marking of Aeronautical Obstacles (AVV), the legislature has laid down binding rules for on-demand night-time marking. The regulations have been amended and the new version came into force on 1 May 2020.

The key issue is that wind turbines should only flash at night when necessary. This means that the lights will only be visible when an aircraft is approaching, thus avoiding collisions. This will also reduce the nuisance to local residence and the environment. The Elster wind farm will therefore also be equipped with on-demand night-time marking.

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Compensation and substitution measures

Compensation measures

When a wind farm is built, it has an impact on nature and the landscape. The repowering of the Elster wind farm will turn many turbines into few. We are taking the opportunity to significantly reduce the impact on the existing site and “give back” around a third of the area. This will be made possible by completely dismantling 50 old wind turbines, including their service areas and access roads, which are no longer needed. Once construction is complete, the area will be restored to its original state. These areas will then be returned to agriculture use.

Unavoidable impacts on nature and the landscape are balanced with a landscape conservation plan. We have developed a comprehensive approach that includes protection, avoidance and compensation measures.

Compensation and substitution measures

We select suitable sites and measures to compensate for or substitute ecological and landscape impacts caused by the wind farm. These are in line with the requirements of the landscape conservation plan and are part of the permit process under the Federal Immission Control Act (BImSchG). The aim is to compensate for interventions such as soil sealing and to create ecologically high-quality, species-rich habitats.

Basic precautions

Ecological construction monitoring

The entire construction process is monitored by experts and the authorities in order to identify significant points of conflict at an early stage and take them into account during the construction process, such as controls and measures to protect amphibians and any necessary measures to protect otters and beavers.

Construction time management, protection of woody plants and control of hollow trees

Construction activities are organised to avoid disturbing the breeding and reproduction sites of sensitive animals such as birds, amphibians and reptiles.

The German Federal Nature Conservation Act stipulates that trees and other woody plants may only be felled during a narrow window of time between October and the end of February the following year. Given the need to protect species, this also ensures that the nesting and breeding season for birds is undisturbed.

Woody plants that are unavoidably felled during construction are inspected well in advance. This includes recording tree holes and checking for bat roosts and the presence of strictly protected wood-dwelling beetle species.

Voluntary additional measures

Support for nature conservation projects

We want to do something good for nature in many ways, not just by producing clean electricity. The Jessen meadow orchard on the Himmelsberg hill was inaugurated back in 1999, but there was not much left of the original tree population. That’s why we decided to fund the planting of 36 fruit trees – including various varieties of apple, pear and plum.

Good to know:

If the Elster wind farm is approved, VSB will implement the following measures:

  • Bat boxes and shutting downWhere trees with potential bat roosts have to be felled, bat boxes will be installed in the surrounding area to compensate. The boxes are well accepted by the animals and provide an alternative to natural tree holes. In addition, wind turbines will be shut down during peak bat activity periods (summer nights with mild temperatures and low wind speeds) to protect the bats.
  • Securing breeding trees of wood-dwelling beetle species (hermit)
    If wood-inhabiting rare beetle species are found in the trees to be felled, the colonised trunk sections are relocated.
  • Protecting the sand lizard
    The presence of sand lizards has been confirmed at the existing wind farm. For us, this means that we can only start ground works when no more sand lizards can be detected at the sites. The animals will be deterred from the construction areas or relocated to suitable areas within the wind farm. These areas will be developed in advance into valuable habitats with shrub islands and piles of rocks and dead wood, which will not only benefit the sand lizards.
  • Shutting down for birds of prey
    A so-called harvest shutdown ensures that the newly planned turbines are switched off when agricultural work is being carried out in the vicinity of the wind turbines. This is because freshly cultivated farmland is a preferred hunting ground for birds of prey, especially during the period of increased food demand when young birds are rearing. By shutting down the turbines, birds of prey can hunt undisturbed and are effectively protected.  
  • Minimisation of unused areas, deconstruction
    Service areas at the turbines are reduced to the minimum necessary. These are, for example, areas that need to be kept available for work on the wind turbines. The service areas of the wind turbines to be dismantled as part of the repowering process will largely be returned to agricultural use.
  • Preservation of selected service areas
    Selected service areas that are no longer required will be preserved as uncultivated fallow land after the foundations have been removed. These areas will be ecologically enhanced to provide valuable habitat for breeding birds of the open farmland such as the ortolan, corn bunting and yellowhammer, but also for the sand lizard.
  • Conversion of windbreaks
    Within the wind farm there are windbreaks dominated by non-native woody species. Over a total length of approximately 5,100 metres, the windbreaks will be converted in sections into site-appropriate field hedges. This will involve the removal of collapsing woody plants from the stand, the filling of gaps, and the planting of native tree and shrub species. Valuable trees, such as the small-leaved lime and Norway maple, will be retained. The ecological value will be enhanced by converting the windbreaks.
  • Row of deciduous trees along a farm track south of Zemnick
    A row of deciduous trees will be planted along the path. The plan is to plant winter lime trees that will develop into a row of large-crowned trees.
  • Development of sandy dry grassland
    Near the transformer station of the wind farm, a sandy dry grassland rich in flowers will be created on a fallow field, making use of the existing species potential. This will provide a valuable habitat, particularly for insects, but also for terrestrial species such as ground-nesting birds and sand lizards.

Acceptance and participation

Educational projects for kindergartens and schools

It is important for us to share our knowledge about renewable energy. That is why we support kindergartens and schools with educational projects and wind farm visits, and help local associations with their projects – preferably in the area of education and support for children and young people. Over the coming months you will find out more about the projects we can support together.

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