Dutch plan new wind farm 75km out in the North Sea

RWE Offshore Wind, Eneco, TenneT, Ballast Nedam, Van Oord, IHC Merwede, 2-B Energy, XEMC Darwind, ECN and TU Delft are pioneering a large scale innovation programme for the development of wind energy far out at sea. (Far and Large Offshore Wind: FLOW). The plan was presented to Minister of Economic Affairs Van der Hoeven.

The FLOW plan links up with the appeal that the Innovation Platform (IP) made during the coast conference in spring 2008. By means of the tulip island the IP challenged the sector to come up with innovative business cases for offshore energy concepts. Innovation Platform member Hans de Boer: "The R&D programme and the demonstration farm that are currently originating from this consortium jointly constitute an excellent example of an innovative project in the Netherlands, with which we can make energy objectives more feasible, contribute towards the further expansion of a more sustainable economy and showcase our strengths to the international community.

It is an initiative of market parties that merits the government’s serious attention. Companies in the Netherlands can acquire a sizeable market share in this new fast-growing European market for offshore wind energy. The Netherlands can decide to merely tag along with the offshore energy developments in Europe in the coming years and get knowledge and experience from abroad. But if we take the lead now, that will galvanise the development of a strong knowledge-intensive value chain in the Netherlands."

The plan comprises an R&D programme and a demonstration wind farm with 20 to 60 turbines 75 kilometer off the Dutchcoast.. From land the wind farm is not visible. There are currently no wind farms operating at this depth (30 till 35 meter) and distance from the coast anywhere in the world. The FLOW programme enables companies in the Netherlands to take a leading position in the European market for offshore wind farms. This initiative will serve to accelerate the Dutch government’s ambition to install wind farms with a capacity of 6,000 MW by 2020.

Energy companies, turbine producers, offshore contractors, developers of wind farms, knowledge institutions and the national electricity carrier have joined forces to develop an innovative R&D programme of a considerable magnitude. Dirk Jan van den Berg, President of the TU Delft Executive Board: “Through this unique partnership between public and private parties, the requisite knowledge will be developed to accelerate the installation of wind farms far out at sea. For he government, this is a unique opportunity to develop the Dutch value chain and create sustainable employment.”

The FLOW consortium is engaged in a constructive dialogue with the Ministry of Economic Affairs to further specify the FLOW Business Plan, and to explore options for Government support to and cooperation in this program. .

Demonstration wind farm with a capacity of 100 to 300 MW

The Dutch government is looking to realise 6,000 MW of offshore wind energy capacity by 2020, representing 38% of the total renewable electricity harvested in the Netherlands in 2020. The FLOW demonstration wind farm is expected to be built in an area far off the coast where there is sufficient room to install a large proportion of the turbines for the generation of the envisaged 6,000 MW. This large-scale demonstration farm is expected to meet the annual electricity needs of 100,000 to 300,000 households, leading to a reduction of 180,000 to 550,000 tons of CO2 per year.

R&D programme

Around the world there is still little knowledge and experience with wind farms located far off the coast. The FLOW consortium will jointly carry out research, develop new innovative foundation concepts as well as new operational and maintenance strategies, and study wind conditions. More efficient turbines are being designed, these are specifically intended for use at locations in the North Sea. In addition, new installation technologies for wind farms at these depths and distances from the coast will be developed.

The partners are conducting research into the best technology for the connection with the electricity grid. New concepts will be validated, from design to utilisation, in the FLOW demonstration wind farm. The lessons learned will be commercialised in future large-scale investments in offshore wind farms and will accelerate these investments. “FLOW will make a major contribution to increasing the reliability of large-scale wind farms while reducing the costs and risks. Thanks to FLOW the Netherlands can take a leading position in the market for offshore wind energy,” says Huib Morelisse, CEO RWE Netherlands.