Dutch select supplier consortium

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Dutch utility Nuon together with the renewables division of Anglo-Dutch energy giant Shell and turbine manufacturer NEG Micon look certain to be named as the developers of the Netherlands' long-planned Near Shore Windpark (NSW), to be sited some ten kilometres off the coast of Noord Holland.

The three companies comprise the NoordzeeWind consortium together with construction concern Ballast Nedam and financiers ING Bank. It has been nominated to build and operate the 99 MW pilot project by the government's special advisory commission, chaired by Hans Alders.

Final negotiations between NoordzeeWind and the ministries of economics and finance on technical issues such as land lease should be concluded by end-April believes the consortium's Peter Knoers. The consortium will then be able to apply for the numerous building and environmental permits required by the project. "If this goes smoothly -- and government co-operation was a condition of our tender -- we should have the wind farm operational by October 2003. If not, spring 2004, seems likely," says Knoers.

The pilot project, to be made up of 36, 2.75 MW NEG Micon turbines, will cost an estimated EUR 200 million. In addition to some 300 million kWh a year, the NSW is also intended to generate significant data on offshore wind performance as a stepping stone to development beyond the 12 mile zone. As such NoordzeeWind has requested a EUR 27 million government subsidy which will be paid from the Netherlands' CO2 reduction funds. A power purchase agreement has been concluded with Nuon, which will sell the power as green electricity in the Netherlands.

The consortium beat three other tenders for the project. According to the commission, not only was the NoordzeeWind proposal superior in terms of project design and finance, it also offered the most comprehensive research and monitoring program. The existing collaboration of Nuon-UK and Shell Renewables at the 2 MW, Vestas-equipped Blyth wind farm in the UK, will also have strengthened their case.

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