New wind power test field

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Large scale wind power plants will be among the major beneficiaries of a decision by regional authorities in Noord Holland to invest NLG 41.2 million in some 20 environmental and renewable energy projects over the next four years. The money, which comes from the province's Refuse Fund-the profits from its commercially operated waste management company-is directed at "giving impetus to existing projects and stimulating new projects," says the council.

Chief among the new renewables projects will be a test plant for advanced wind turbine technology to be built in the Wieringermeer region of Noord Holland to the south east of the Afsluitdijk, the giant barrier which keeps the North sea out of the Netherlands. The province will contribute NLG 9.5 million to the NLG 39.4 million development, which is to be carried out by the Dutch Energy Research Centre (ECN) in collaboration with power company NUON-ENW and the Technical University Delft. The site has been approved by the Wieringermeer local council and pending completion of planning and environmental permit applications, the province expects work on the wind plant to begin in the course of next year.

The Wieringermeer wind test stations comprises two distinct elements, says ECN's Wim Stam. A prototype field will provide "test-foundations" for four prototype turbines in the 3-4 MW size range, while a research field will accommodate a further five production turbines in the 1.5 MW class.

Testing for offshore

In the prototype section, the aim of which is to speed up the market introduction of large "seaworthy" wind turbines, manufacturers will be able to conduct the necessary tests for the certification of the multi-megawatt units of the future. As yet none of the test beds has been reserved. Manufacturers wishing to test multi-megawatt prototypes will be dealt with on a first come first served basis, says Stam. In the research section, ECN and TU Delft will carry out a range of tests into the specific behaviour of production turbines when placed in a group.

The province's NLG 9.5 million will be used primarily for the project's infrastructure costs-grid connection and up-grading the local distribution network. Additional funds will be provided by ECN (NLG 18.5 million), the utility NUON-ENW (NLG 2.6 million) and the Dutch ministry of economic affairs (NLG 6.5 million). Manufacturers will pay for the installation of their own turbines and will be paid for the electricity they produce by regional power company NUON-ENW.

A special "window contract" is being devised for foreign manufacturers unable to make direct use of the green label system operational in the Netherlands since last year. All green electricity produced in Holland is allocated green power credits, or labels, which are sold on a trading exchange. The power is sold directly to the grid at market prices.

In addition to the Wieringermeer project, Noord Holland has set aside a further NLG 250,000 for the construction of a large wind plant proposed for the Afsluitdijk, currently subject of an environmental impact study. The council has consciously chosen to invest in large scale, high profile projects in order to increase public awareness of the province's renewable energy resources, says the authority's Krijn van Rijn.

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