Repowering of show case wind farm

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Dutch utility NUON is to repower its showcase Lelystad wind plant. The existing 300 kW WindMaster turbines -- all 35 of which are for sale on the open market -- will be replaced by 18, 750 kW units, also from WindMaster.

The announcement last month of a "sale by tender of 35 fully operational wind turbines" raised the spectre that one of the more progressive utilities had undergone a change of heart and was getting out of wind. "Not at all," says Ukei Bouwman of NUON. "The turbines are being sold as part of a refit programme which will ensure the utility maximises its production of wind energy on that site."

The decision to repower the project after only six years is not because of problems with the turbines, but because of the nature of the site, says Bouwman. Built in the shadow of the Lelystad power station and with a large dike to windward, the 30 metre hub height of the WM300/35 does not allow optimal performance. With an extra 20 metres on the hub height, the WM750 CS 43 will operate more efficiently and boost the site's installed capacity from 10.5 to 13.5 MW.

According to WindMaster's Geert-Jan Smithuis, this fine-tuning of the site's potential is possible only by virtue of the company's close working relationship with NUON. It has bought back the 300 kW turbines for an undisclosed sum and is responsible for their resale at auction.

"We knew NUON wasn't entirely happy with the performance of the WM300s at the IJsselmeer site," says Smithuis. "It is in our interest to keep our customers happy, so we proposed the upgrade." According to Smithuis, the new order is worth some NLG 23 million while the resale of the WM300 units is expected to realise around NLG 6 million.

Smithuis admits to some concern over the impact on wind turbine manufacturers of the sudden creation of a second-hand turbine market in the Netherlands. Although WindMaster would prefer to see all 35 turbines go to a single buyer, it is prepared to consider offers for single turbines and has pledged to provide help with transportation, installation and service contracts. Speedy clearance of the site is imperative as installation of the new turbines is to start in April. The repowered wind plant will help NUON reach its goal of deriving 5% of all its electricity production from renewable resources by the millennium.

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