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The Dutch government has adopted a new approach to offshore wind power in order to cut costs and speed implementation. Total installed capacity currently stands at 247MW, but the government plans to have a further 3.5GW online by 2024.
It has designated three areas divided into a total of five blocks of around 700MW, all relatively close to shore, one of which will be offered for tender each year. The first block will consist of two projects of 350MW each in the southernmost Borssele zone, with the tender expected near the end of this year, after the necessary law has reached the statute books on 1 July. The National Water Plan must also be amended to allow turbines to be installed within the 12-nautical mile limit in two of the zones. The industry expects the amendment to be made this year.
Bids will be judged on the projects' price and quality. Winners will be granted all the necessary permits and a subsidy under the renewables incentive programme (SDE) and will have four years to complete their project. To accelerate deployment, the government carries out most of the geological and meteorological studies, as well as the environmental impact assessment. Grid operator Tennet will build the offshore substations, export cables and grid connections. In return, the government "requires" the cost of offshore wind to drop by 40% "in the coming years".
In 2009, under a previous policy, the government granted concessions for nine projects totalling 2.5GW. These were subsequently cancelled, and the developers are waiting to hear what the government intends to offer in compensation.
Meanwhile, Eneco and Mitsubishi expect to complete their 129MW Luchterduinen project, equipped with Vestas 3MW turbines, in September. It will be followed in early 2016 by the 144MW nearshore Westermeerwind project, using Siemens 3MW turbines. The consortium headed by Northland Power will start offshore construction of its 600MW Gemini project this summer, for full commissioning in early 2017. It will use 4MW Siemens turbines.