Dutch utility ambition spurs green growth

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Sales of green electricity are up by 66% and wind will continue to play an important role in the overall renewables strategy of the Dutch PNEM-MEGA Group. According to its annual report, the utility more than doubled the number of subscribers to its green electricity programs, from 20,000 in 1997 to 45,000 by end 1998. PNEM-MEGA operates in the Brabant and Limburg regions.

The 125% increase in the group's customer base is equal to a 66% increase in green power sales, with the total number of kWh sold climbing from 50 million in 1997 to 83 million in 1998. Under the green electricity programs operated by PNEM-MEGA and other Dutch utilities, customers elect to pay a premium price for nominally green power, with the extra revenue being returned to renewables development.

Although there is no one-on-one correlation between the production and marketing of renewables, increasing demand for green power has led PNEM-MEGA to scale up its ambitions. Committed by a voluntary agreement with the Dutch government to reducing CO2 emissions by 538 kilotons, the group has set itself an additional target of securing 25% of the home market in renewables production and marketing. Increasing demand will be matched by increasing production, it says.

In 1998 wind energy accounted for 26.1 million of the 111.5 million kWh of renewables generation. In addition to its own wind capacity, the group buys energy from a number of independent producers. PNEM was the first utility to use the Dutch "green label system" of trading renewable energy credits to buy wind power from outside its distribution area, clinching a deal with North Holland wind energy producers Kneeshoek BV in 1997.

The group's most recent wind project, the 3 MW Windpark Karolinapolder near Dinteloord in Noord Brabant, came on-line at the end of 1998. Plans are currently being made for the development of sites in the inland-and as yet wind farm free-province of Limburg.

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