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Shell, Nuon Open First Dutch Offshore Wind Farm

Date: 19-Apr-07
Country: NETHERLANDS

The companies invested over 200 million euros (US$270 million) in the 108 megawatt wind park on the North Sea, which also serves as a demonstration project to gain technical knowledge and monitor the affects on marine life, they said.

"I am convinced that without the further deployment of offshore wind energy, it will be impossible to meet the present government's ambitious goals for sustainable energy," Economy Minister Maria van der Hoeven said in the statement.

"We must therefore put in place procedures for licensing and subsidies that will bring about innovation and cost reductions," said Van der Hoeven, whose ministry had initiated the first offshore wind farm.

The new Dutch coalition government, which took over in February, wants to increase the share of renewable energy to 20 percent in 2020, a target recently agreed by European Union leaders as part of efforts to fight climate change.

Clumsy bureaucratic procedures, however, has kept the share of wind energy small in the Netherlands, which has windy weather for most of the year.

Official data show that wind energy production amounted to a preliminary 2,742 gigawatt hours last year and contributed 2.37 percent of the Netherlands' total electricity consumption, slightly up from 1.81 percent in 2005.

The previous Dutch government tried to reduce regulations involved in giving a green light to wind power projects as the licensing used to take five years, the longest in Europe.

It also lifted a ban in 2004 on the construction of offshore wind farms on the North Sea. The transport ministry introduced the moratorium several years ago and stopped issuing licences for offshore wind farm projects until new legislation was adopted.

Shell, which sees wind energy as one of the promising renewable energy technologies, said it will continue to invest in wind farms.

"We are concentrating on finding solutions to the climate problem. Wind energy is one option here," Shell Chief Executive Jeroen van der Veer said.

"The onus is now on us to prove as quickly as possible that offshore wind energy is a profitable business so that we continue to invest in it," he added.

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