Wheeling wind from afar

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The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) discovered at one point the secret of how so many Dutchmen can live off such a small area. The Dutch, says the IUCN (the godfather of the World Wildlife Fund), are actually living off seven or more times the land area they occupy. This feat is achieved by importing raw materials and feed for their pigs and cattle. A recent study commissioned by energy agency Novem seems to have taken the IUCN's discovery to heart. It examined the potential for siting wind turbines in windy areas of Norway and Scotland and wheeling the power back home to Holland. According to the study, wind electricity from Norway would cost DFL 0.12/kWh and from Scotland, DFL 0.09/kWh, including transport. That is much lower than the current cost of wind power in Holland. And if the Norwegians are willing to flood some areas to combine wind and hydro power, costs would be even lower, says the Novem study. Similarly, if the people of Scotland would provide peat and other biomass sources for combined renewables power plant, the price could drop to DFL 0.07-0.08/kWh -- about the same as electricity from fossil fuel. Luckily for both the Norwegians and the Scots, most people at a Novem conference where these matters were discussed declared themselves against this type of energy imperialism. The benefits of wind's embedded generation would also have been hard to spot on a transmission network stretching well over one thousand kilometres.

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