Eneco's new found interest in wind starts with the joint development of nine Nordex 2.5 MW machines together with privately owned company Hartel BV. The project partners are paying Siemens Nederland EUR 20 million to build the Hartel III wind station near Rotterdam's Europort. Siemens hopes to install the turbines by the autumn. The ownership will be split six/three between Eneco and Hartel.
The GEN purchase includes two staff members and 20 projects under development in the provinces of Zeeland, Noord Brabant, and Utrecht, says GEN manager Marc van de Pluym. Of the 200 MW of projects, some 100 MW are more or less certain to secure planning approval, while three projects, with a combined capacity of about 50 MW, should be given the go ahead this year.
Driven by demand
Hans Kursten, Eneco's renewables manager, expects most of GEN's projects to be realised in 2005 to 2006, by which time Eneco should have an additional 150-200 MW in its wind portfolio, he believes. With just 32 MW installed wind capacity to its name -- and that built for the most part in the early 1990s -- Eneco has not until now been regarded as a major player in the country's wind sector.
The increased investment in Dutch wind is to some extent a strategic necessity, says Kursten. With some 400,000 customers for its green electricity product, Ecostroom, buying an estimated EUR 3 billion annually, the company needs all the renewables it can get. For this reason it revitalised its renewables investment program three years ago in an effort to keep pace with the expanding green power market.
The focus on wind has been intensified by government regulations. Until last month, Dutch power companies could shop abroad for the green power they sold to domestic customers using tax breaks on green power sales to finance the import of foreign renewables. The tax breaks have now ended and subsidies are now payable only to domestic producers.
"The change in regulations meant that we scaled down our concern with foreign investment and concentrated much more on the Dutch market -- and that is certainly one of the reasons for taking over GEN. At the moment we still have to import some power for Ecostroom, but in the longer term we expect to be able to meet the demand from Dutch sources," says Kursten.
"In Holland wind is a much more attractive investment proposition than biomass, largely because of the uncertainties surrounding biomass emissions regulations," he adds. Kursten believes Eneco's current wind investment is probably more than that of Nuon, the Dutch utility with the largest installed wind capacity to date. But Eneco's intentions are not to become a national leader in renewables generation, he adds.