First green pricing project

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Four years after it was first proposed, Dutch utility Energy Noord West's 4.5 MW Waardpolder wind farm finally came on line at the end of August. In the event the opening was timely. With entitlement to a NLG 3.5 million government subsidy due to expire on September 1, the blades on the 19 NedWind 250 kW turbines began turning with only about 48 hours to spare.

Situated near Wieringerwaard in Noord Holland province, the wind farm ran into strong opposition from local pressure groups concerned with its visual impact on the landscape. Legal action by the objectors twice forced the utility to seek an extension of its building permit. But with its subsidy deadline looming, Energy Noord West (ENW) decided to start construction at the end of last year, despite a civil action on the merits of the project still to be handled by the Council of State, the government's highest advisory body.

Given that previous court rulings upheld ENW's case, project manager Ronald Wiecherink feels confident the latest action will be decided in the utility's favour. In response to a request for an interim facility, "The Council of State ruled there were no grounds for withdrawing either the building permit or the environmental management permit," Wiecherink says. "So I don't expect the action on merits will find any different."

The wind plant is the first in the Netherlands to be financed from the proceeds of "green electricity" sales. The turbines have been placed in line-formation. With a rotor diameter of 31 metres and an optimal performance at average wind speeds of 4.5-9 m/s, they are expected to generate some 8.9 million kWh a year -- enough for some 2960 Dutch households.

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