Chemical plant provides a big site -- Shell and Nuon move onshore

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Dutch utility Nuon is to join forces with Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell in a 50/50 joint venture to build a 40-50 MW wind farm at Moerdijk on the south bank of the Hollandse Diep in the Dutch province of Brabant. According to a declaration of intent signed by the partners, the new wind plant will be built on land owned by Shell's chemical division, Shell Nederland Chemie, and the Moerdijk port authority, Havenschap Moerdijk, which also signed the declaration.

A total of 21 turbines will be built at a cost of EUR 50 million, says Shell's Henk Bonder. The project will be executed in three phases on two sites: the first five to six machines -- some 15 MW -- are to be built on land owned by Shell Chemie and are scheduled for completion in 2005. The remaining machines will be built on land jointly owned by Shell Chemie and the Havenschap Moerdijk. A revision of planning regulations is first needed for the site, or rezoning, putting back project completion until 2006, says Bonder


Negotiations over subsidies and permits are still in process but the partners are optimistic they will receive full co-operation from the provincial authorities. Under a national covenant, the Province of Brabant has agreed to find space for 125 MW of wind plant before 2010. With just 38 MW built to date the Nuon/Shell project could make up 58% of the outstanding capacity required by the province.

Shell and Nuon first joined forces to build two 2 MW turbines off the UK coast at Blyth and subsequently parleyed this experience into a tender to build a 99 MW near-shore wind farm off the Dutch coast near Egmond, which they were awarded ahead of a number of other consortia. Moerdijk marks the partnership's first venture onshore. "The new project does not signal any change in our working relationship," says Bonder. "We will continue to work together on a project to project basis."

As yet no decision has been taken about who will get the green power produced by the plant, says Bonder. Both Nuon and Shell are active green electricity retailers on the Dutch market.

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