Netherlands’ First Wind Farm in the North Sea Performing Well
London - The performance of the Egmond aan Zee Offshore Wind Farm, which has been in operation since the beginning of this year, has been excellent. Thanks in part to the stormy weather of the first three months of 2007, during which there has been a great deal of wind, more than 111 million kilowatt hours of electricity have been produced. This is equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of more than 33,000 households.
The monitoring programme is also proceeding well. The Ministry of Economic Affairs, responsible for initiating the project, has designated the wind farm as a demonstration project. The knowledge and expertise gained from the project will play a part in developing new projects with greater efficiency and savings. Technical knowledge as well as the effects on nature and the environment are being charted. The noise generated by the pile-driving during construction, for example, has had no lasting effect on marine life above or below the surface of the water. Ecological studies will also be conducted during the years to come into the effects on nature and the environment. Eight underwater microphones pick up the audible signals from porpoises, measuring the movements of these marine mammals. Transmitters have been fitted to twelve seals to monitor their behaviour, and soil samples have been taken from eighty locations to establish whether and to what extent life on the sea floor is changing under the influence of the turbines. Furthermore, two radar systems have been installed in the wind farm to measure bird movements and chart the behaviour of migratory birds. Two wind turbines have been equipped with instruments for technological research, registering in detail the behaviour of the turbines themselves. This is important for the further development of offshore wind turbines.
The wind farm is a shipping exclusion zone, with the exception of research and maintenance vessels. Because fishing is prohibited in the wind farm, it is nticipated that certain species of fish will use the area as a safe haven. This effect is also being monitored.
Nuon and Shell have also undertaken to provide information to the general public. A centre providing readily accessible information to the public about the wind farm has opened in the Tourist Office in Egmond aan Zee town centre. This information centre has been a resounding success. In the days following the official inauguration of the wind farm at the beginning of April, the NoordzeeWind Infocentre had received more than twenty thousand visitors.
The construction of the Egmond aan Zee Offshore Wind Farm is an exemplary project in many ways. The construction work was executed safely and was completed on time and within budget. The wind farm comprises 36 turbines with a 108 megawatt design capacity, and the volume of electricity generated by these turbines corresponds to the average annual consumption of more than 100,000 Dutch households. The project involved an investment of more than EUR 200 million. The Offshore Wind Farm is managed by NoordzeeWind, a joint venture of Nuon and Shell. It was built on the initiative of the Dutch Government. Bouwcombinatie Egmond (BCE), a joint venture of construction company Ballast Nedam and wind-turbine manufacturer Vestas, was charged with the construction of the wind farm and the everyday operational management.
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