Simulation picture, E-126 in the Netherlands from http://green-giraffe.eu/projects/nop-agrowind#detail
Next month the first of 26 of the world’s biggest and most powerful commercial scale wind turbines (7.5 MW) will be installed and operational right on the shoreline of a big inland lake in the Netherlands called the IJsselmeer, which is a shallow man-made lake of fresh water covering 430 square miles. Another part of the project is the Westermeerwind 144 MW offshore (in the Ijsselmeer) freshwater wind farm, to be composed of 48 x 3 MW Siemens wind turbines located paralleling the shore, and between 1,100 to 500 meters from the shore. Rather than being chicken at the sight of a wind turbine near the coast, this country is embracing them. However, the Dutch also have wind farms located over 20 km into the North Sea….
This project has been a long time in the works. Over 20 years ago, 100 local farmers/landowners got together can came up with this vision. They are still the majority owners, but have teamed up with two major electrical generation companies (RWE (Germany) and Essent). They are also offering their neighbors a chance to own part of this project. The ultimate plan (3 parts) is for 38 big E126 units and 48 smaller offshore units to be installed (458 MW) cranking out an average of at least 160 MW. This part of Europe has a very decent wind resource - up to 9 m/s at 135 meters above the water/ground, which is where the Enercon E126 hub height stands.
The lake was formed by constructing a long dike stretching from the province of North Holland to Friesland. On the other (western) side of the dike is the Wadden Sea/Atlantic Ocean. The dike is 20 miles long and built 7.5 meters (25 feet) above sea level. It is one of the most impressive engineering accomplishments in the world. It separates the Zuiderzee freshwater lake from the Atlantic, and large parts of this lake have been reclaimed from the lake into some incredibly productive agricultural land. However, the income from sale of the electricity will probably be much greater than the farm income, at least for the initial 100 investors. This project will be the largest wind farm in this country….. and it should supply electricity for 140,000 households in the Netherlands.
The total investment will be close to 1 billion Euros. The initial Agrowind (26 E-126 turbines) will cost 420 million Euros, and 350 million of that will be borrowed money. The financing recently was closed, though there appears to be a lot of the construction (and which someone got paid to do) done already.
It costs around $14 million just to buy an E-126, and about $7 million to install it. Part of the installation involves building a humongous “crawler crane” (and not many of these exist in the world) which essentially barely moves at all. It is needed for the final lifts of the concrete tower sections (the tower is made of pre-fabricated reinforced concrete shells and is 135 meters tall. And it comes with its owns internal elevator (135 meters is 443 feet), too, as well as ladder for manual ascents. The foundation is a special challenge due to the poor “strength” of the soil (basically reclaimed silt from swamps, rivers, harbors and ocean) - it consists of 2800 tons of reinforced concrete resting on long piles that connect with bedrock or what passes for it in that country. The blades come in two sections, as at ~60 meters, they would be a pain to transport. The inner parts of the turbine blades are mostly steel, and the outer sections are fiberglass reinforced epoxy polymer. They even have “winglets on their tips to prevent air from “spilling off” as noise.
By and large, these are reported to be really quiet - no gears in the generator section, a very rigid concrete tower and the fact that the nacelle is 440 feet up in the air. Anyway, the farmers in this VERY DENSELY POPULATED part of Europe should be very happy with their new source of income and electrical energy, and they are in hawk to the tune of $US 550 million for this (well, probably not THAT happy about that aspect of the project). But they have long term power purchase agreements for their electricity, as otherwise the banks who now have $460 million tied in in this would NEVER have loaned that quantity of coin to some farmer dudes and dudettes in the “Nord polder” of the Netherlands. Anyway, we in the US just cannot do such a project at present - not because our workers could not construct it (they could!!!), or we don’t have the wind resource and land to do this one (we have that several times over). No, Enercon won’t sell their turbines (considered the highest quality ones in the world, and at $2.8 million per MW of capacity, not a bargain, either) in the USA, because the pricing systems we have concocted for renewable energy make Sarah Pain and Michelle Bachman look sane. And THAT is not an easy thing to do, but that’s a done deal. BTW, those two women grifters do appear to be the definition of “bat crap crazy” to many people..
Anyway, there are some nice things to be said about a sane pricing system for renewable energy, and electricity in particular. Too bad that’s not on anyone’s election year agenda to any significant extent, though that may be an overboard generalization. So if you are a politician and you advocate for sanity in renewable energy pricing in this country or NY State (which takes the bad aspects of US policy and makes it worse via Casino style pricing for electricity), good for you. Andf it’s a good time to let the world know, what with Bill McKibben’s big NY City rally coming up for this fall equinox in NY City… (see http://peoplesclimate.org/march/)..