Bumper year in sight at last

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A rash of new wind development plans is revealing that despite formidable bureaucratic obstacles hope springs eternal in the Dutch wind sector. On the basis of projects currently seeking, or due to be submitted for planning and environmental approval, 1999 could prove a bumper year for wind in the Netherlands, with around 70 MW of new capacity in sight.

Proposals from Amsterdam utility Energie Noord West (ENW) for four new wind farms in and around the Wieringermeer polder in North Holland could add a further 50 MW to the national total. The utility's plans for 33 turbines in the 1 MW to 1.5 MW class are now being considered by the local council. It is expected to report its findings this month. A subsequent round of public consultation will determine the likely date for work to begin on the projects, says ENW's Ronald Wiecherink.

Arnhem utility NUON, which last year headed the league for newly installed wind capacity with its 20 MW Eemmeer development, has made a more modest start to 1999. Its plans for 15 turbines on the shore of the Veluwemeer inland sea to the south of Flevoland have been scaled down to a proposal for six wind turbines in the Ermelo region. The Ermelo municipal authority is reported to be giving favourable consideration to the proposals. Approval, however, will require a revision of the municipality's existing wind farm regulations, which were formulated in 1983 and fix permitted mast height at just 25 metres. The regulations are rather outdated the municipality concedes.

On the basis of feasibility studies conducted last year, Maastricht utility MEGA-Limburg is contemplating a first venture into wind power with proposals for six turbines on three sites in Midden-Limburg. The proposals, which would see one turbine erected in Heel, two in Linne, and three in Roermond, are being considered by the local authorities. Quick approval of the permit application would mean an end to Limburg's unenviable reputation as the only Dutch province to produce no power from renewable resources. Should all the projects proceed to completion, locally produced wind energy will meet the needs of some 3000 Limburg households.

Further up the river Maas, municipal authorities in the Nijmegen region are also considering putting wind into the region's energy budget. On the basis of a new environmental report, Milieusamenwerking Regio Nijmegen, compiled by environmental consultancy Gen in Bergambacht, eight sites within the municipalities of Mook, Heumen, Wijchen and Beuningen have been identified as technically and economically viable for wind turbines ranging in size from 600 kW to 1.5 MW.

In Groningen, plans by an agricultural concern, Bakker BV in Bierum, to erect six, 65 metre turbines on a dike to the south east of the Eemshaven industrial park have cleared two early planning hurdles. Dike owner, Groningen Seaports, has given permission for the development and the local council has advised that it is not opposed to building on the dike. The provincial council is now considering the proposal. While existing planning legislation fixes mast height at 40 metres in Groningen, the regional government is contemplating revising this regulation for certain sites, including industrial parks. Bakker plans to use the power to control the temperature of its cold storage facilities and to sell surplus production to regional power company EDON.

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