Netherlands offshore wind power

The Netherlands has one of the world’s largest offshore wind farms, the 600 MW Gemini farm, and three smaller farms. Its total offshore wind capacity by the end of 2016 was 1.12 GW, of which more than half, 691 MW, was installed in that year. Predictions are for 4.5 GW total offshore by 2023.

In 2016, the Netherlands’ total wind capacity both on- and offshore was 4.32 GW, from 2,403 turbines. Wind supplies 8.9% of the country’s electricity needs. The Dutch wind sector employs 10,150 people.

The Dutch grid operator TenneT is the TSO (transmission operator) for offshore, and they are currently upgrading the grid infrastructure to handle the expansion to offshore wind. TenneT and the Danish Energinet.dk company are jointly installing a 700MW high voltage submarine cable (COBRA) to connect their countries’ two electricity grids. The Dutch grid is connected to the Norwegian grid via the 700MW NorNed cable, and to the British grid via the 1.0GW BritNed cable. The Netherlands employs turbines from Siemens, Enercon, Lagerwey, Nordex and Vestas.

The 600 MW Gemini offshore wind farm was completed in 2016. The 429 MW Noordoostpolder wind farm has 48 turbines in the IJsselmeer and 38 turbines on land, generating 1.4 TWh p.a. (3.26 GWh per MW), which is an average power output of 38% of peak capacity.

Interestingly, Dutch financial support for wind power differentiates between areas according to average windspeed. For onshore wind installations, where the average windspeed is greater that 8 m/s, the feed-in tariff (FiT) is €64/MWh, and at less than 7 m/s it rises to €85/MWh, with two steps in between. Slightly higher rates apply to dykes. Wind installations in lakes receive €104/MWh, irrespective of average wind speed.

The government aimed to reduce the cost of offshore wind power by 40% between 2014 and 2024. To facilitate this, offshore tenders are capped at progressively falling rates, reaching €100/MWh by 2019.

These caps proved to be unduly pessimistic, however, as the Dong company won the first bid at €72.7/MWh. A consortium of Shell, Van Oord, Eneco and Diamond Generating Europe Limited then won the second tender round with a record low bid of €54.5/MWh, although this does not include grid integration costs.