First phase of near shore project

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The first phase of utility NUON's IJsselmeer Windpark in the Netherlands -- billed as the world's first semi-offshore development -- was officially opened on November 14 by the chairman of the World Wildlife Fund and former Dutch environment minister, Ed Nijpels. Sited near the Flevolpolder's Ketelbrug, the plant's 19 Nordtank 600 kW turbines wet their foundations in the shallow waters of the IJsselmeer with each unit linked to the shore by a removable walkway.

This offshore location was not the first choice of the Arnhem utility, but became necessary when the Fleverwaard, the body responsible for dikes in the area, refused planning permission for construction on the dike. How much the extra cost of this move offshore contributed to the project's NLG 48 million price tag has not been disclosed.

Despite the planning problems, NUON remains committed to providing 5% of its total output from renewables by 2000 -- a figure which places it amongst the more progressive of Dutch utilities. When the final phase of the development is completed in the spring, with the addition of a further nine turbines, total output will be some 16.8 MW -- enough power for around 10,000 households. These will include 2000 subscribers to the company's green power scheme who will pay a premium price for electricity from renewables. Revenues from this scheme were also used to finance the project. The opening of the plant, on line since September, brings the number of wind plants owned by NUON to five.

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