The project, Successful Implementation of Wind Energy at regional and municipal level (SIWERM), targets local and regional authorities wanting to build wind plant, but which lack the necessary expertise to bring stakeholders together to make good their ambitions.
With pilot projects in Italy, Poland and Greece, the Altener-2 program project, is co-ordinated by the Netherlands' CEA renewable energy consultancy based in Rotterdam. It aims to build on wind planning experience in densely populated Holland to smooth the path of project development elsewhere in Europe.
"There are too many examples of municipalities being convinced by a developer that they should allow a wind farm to be built on a certain site only to discover too late that this wasn't the best place," explains CEA's Marco Tieleman. "In many cases, what is technically the best site for a wind farm has other practical disadvantages. A developer may prefer a particular site to another because it has better grid connection, but in so doing overlooks the opposition of the local bird watching society to that site. As result the project is bogged down in planning for years, or never gets built."
The SIWERM method involves making a broad-based inventory of the wind resources of an area. Along with technical considerations, it takes into account social and environmental factors. By organising information evenings and excursions to wind farms, SIWERM aims to build up local support with municipalities and other stakeholders and identify problems before beginning any project, says Tieleman. "Most of the time this is simply a question of separating the fact and fiction about wind, identifying people's anxieties and addressing them objectively. For that reason, we don't work for developers, it is vital that we preserve our objectivity," says Tieleman.
In Midden-Holland -- a high value recreational area with ten local councils in the heavily populated Randstad conglomeration -- this approach has led to the identification of sites for some 45 MW of new wind plant and effectively opened up a new region to wind.
"Now that SIWERM has identified the sites, it's a question of bringing the land owners together with the developers," says Geurt Scheper, regional energy co-ordinator for Midden-Holland. "Now we will see just how effective the approach has been. If all goes well I expect to see a significant proportion of these sites developed over the next two years."
Consultants from Italy, Poland and Greece, have been in the Netherlands to learn from the Dutch experience and take those lessons back home. Projects are ongoing in Italy at the municipality of Reggello in mountainous Montagna Fiorentina; in Greece in the Domnista area; in Poland at Suwalki and in the Netherlands in the Breda region and near Oss. At Domnista, the SIWERM trained consultants have finished mapping the wind resources and are now developing their communication plan.