With total installed capacity currently at just 363 MW and with only a further 100 MW in the planning pipeline, the chances of the Netherlands realising the remaining 540 MW in the next 18 months would seem remote. According to NUON's "Windplan," however, the target fixed in 1991 can still be met if immediate action is taken.
Specifically the plan calls for every local authority with less than 1 MW of installed wind capacity within its jurisdiction to identify a site for a 1.5 MW wind farm before September 30 this year, and to begin immediately with the related planning and environmental applications. It would require the compliance of only 370, or 80%, of the 450 authorities to achieve the target.
Given the sites and the completion of planning procedures by the summer of next year, NUON believes that financing and constructing the 540 MW will present few problems. Construction of its recently completed 19 MW Eemmeerdijk wind farm took less than six months, NUON points out, while the NLG 51 million project was entirely financed by the utility's program for offering green electricity to customers at a premium price. Planning procedures, however, took eight years.
The utility's Windplan is backed by the results of a survey commissioned by government agency Novem which shows that only 6% of the Dutch are opposed to their local councils actively promoting local wind farm developments, while 52% are unconditionally in favour of local wind energy production and 42% in favour on certain conditions (Windpower Monthly, 1998)
To date the development of Dutch wind energy has been stifled by planning procedures which give too much opportunity to the tiny but vociferous minority of wind energy opponents, argues NUON director of renewable energy Annemarie Goedmakers. Furthermore, too many local authorities have been content to let others take the initiative and begin to formulate a local wind energy policy only after they have received concrete proposals for a development. On average this introduces a two-year delay into the planning process with the situation being further compounded by site review procedures which exclude locations where there is any possibility of objection, however slight.
Damage to the industry
One consequence of the planning induced stagnation of the domestic sector has been the collapse of the Dutch wind industry, claims NUON. So too, the Netherlands' chance of gaining a lead in the development of offshore technology has been seriously compromised by the delays in the implementation of the near shore 100 MW test project. The environmental impact report has still to be completed on the project and the procedure for determining which consortia will be involved in the construction of the project are still unclear, NUON notes. This means that potential project partners have had no time to make preparations which will lead to further delays and result in the Dutch wind industry dropping even further behind its foreign competitors.
In the longer term, NUON proposes that local councils be legally obliged to make provision for the production of an amount of renewable energy which is proportional to the total number of residents in the local authority area. Councils which fail to meet their targets should be obliged to pay fines into a common fund which would be used to reward councils who exceed their targets.