In an innovative deal recently closed with the Westfriese Windmolen Cooperative, Dutch telephone company Libertel is proposing to plug the gaps in its mobile telecoms transmitter network by using wind turbines as "instant" antennae masts in the northern part of the province of Noord-Holland. The deal has considerable advantages for both sides, says Pierre Laan, chairman of the 300 member Westfriese Windmolen Cooperative. "In return for letting Libertel mount antennae on their turbines, our members will receive NLG 3500 per year, per turbine, plus an attractive bonus," he says. The contract also stipulates that turbine owners will be compensated in the event of repair work to the antennae requiring a shutdown, he adds. In return Libertel, the main competitor of former monopoly provider PTT Telecom on the Dutch mobile phone market, will be spared the expense of constructing and maintaining dedicated transmitter masts and can thus avoid the uncertainties and delays of the notoriously slow Dutch town and country planning process. "There is still a requirement that operators must report the use of a turbine as a transmitter mast to the local council, but nothing more," says Laan. The deal was finalised after a month's testing on a Lagerwey LW 18/80 revealed no problems. "The design of the Lagerwey is ideal for this purpose," explains Laan. "The antennae are mounted below the rotor blades and to be effective need to be about 30 metres above the ground." It has not yet been decided how many of the co-operative's five turbines will be equipped with antennae, but as each antenna has a range of some ten kilometres, the proposal is generating considerable interest amongst turbine owners in North Holland.
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