Safety top priority at refinery site -- BP builds again

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With permits in place, British Petroleum (BP) plans to build a 9 MW wind farm at its terminal in the Amsterdam harbour area for completion by summer this year. The company built the 22.5 MW Nerefco wind farm at its Rotterdam oil refinery in 2002.

The new project will be equipped with three, 3 MW Vestas V90 machines, the largest turbines to go up in the Netherlands to date, according to Eric Bakker of BP's renewables and alternative energy division. Previously, BP used Nordex machines. "We went for Vestas as they submitted an excellent proposal for the wind farm construction that met all of BP's commercial, technical and safety criteria," Bakker says.

The $10 million wind farm is expected to provide power for some 5000 Dutch households and avoid CO2 emissions of 5000 tonnes per year, says Bakker. Power will be sold directly to the grid.

The Nerefco project -- one of the biggest in the Netherlands -- was built in partnership with fellow refinery owner Chevron-Texaco. It marked BP's entry into the Dutch wind market, but it was always intended as the first of a series. "We have successfully used the formula at the Nerefco refinery and are currently looking at other BP-owned brown field sites such as Amsterdam," says Bakker.

Permits in record speed

Like Nerefco, securing the permits for the Amsterdam plant was achieved in record speed. It took around 12 months and included a full environmental impact assessment and a comprehensive safety review.

The Amsterdam permits took a bit longer than Nerefco, however. Safety issues were again a concern. "Our feasibility study included a thorough safety assessment, which did not indicate any increased risks for the terminal," says Bakker. As an additional precautionary measure, however, the company increased the safety standards for the turbines to Class I, which is used on offshore applications. A lightning detection system will switch off the turbines if lightning is detected within a range of ten kilometres.

In addition, turbine construction will follow a protocol blueprint that was established during Nerefco erection as an operational petrochemical environment. "These are at least as tough as BP's own rigorous health and safety regulations," says Bakker.

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