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Dutch electricity company NUON is starting construction this month of what is being called the largest off shore wind power plant in the world. But the decision to get its feet wet was made reluctantly by the utility. It would rather have placed the 19 Nordtank 600 kW turbines on shore, says Anne-Marie Goedmakers of the utility's wind and biogas department.

NUON, based in Arnhem in central east Holland, was driven 35 metres into the huge IJselmeer inland sea by the Fleverwaard, the administration responsible for the dikes in the area. The turbines will be sited in shallow waters outside the dike between Lelystad and Drongten, making the development more properly a semi-offshore wind plant, despite Nordtank's claims to be constructing the largest ever offshore wind farm.

In planning the 11.4 MW wind power plant, NUON was confronted with the Netherlands's eleventh commandment -- you shall not build on dikes. With only the dikes keeping the North Sea out of Holland the rule is not hard to understand. Marion Bolle of Fleverwaard says not even a signpost or parking place is allowed on the dike, let alone a wind turbine. "You have two choices -- either you put them behind the dike or out in the sea," she says.

Goedmakers is none too happy with this attitude. An offshore park will cost far more than one on shore. How much more, she declines to disclose. "Let's just say I'm happy this project got government subsidy," she says. The order for the turbines is worth DKK 85 million, according to Nordtank. NUON is to supply transformers and the grid connection.

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