Vattenfall opens and renames largest Dutch onshore wind farm

On Wednesday 30 September 2020, Swedish energy company Vattenfall held a virtual opening ceremony of the largest onshore wind farm to date in the Netherlands. Previously known as Wieringermeer Wind Farm, the project was yesterday officially babtised into Prinses Ariane Wind Farm.

During a 45-minute broadcast, representatives of Vattenfall and Riena Tienkamp Head Staatsbosbeheer Noord-Holland, looked back on the process in a studio in Utrecht while in Middenmeer on location, the 13-year -old Indira interviewed the mayor of Hollandse Kroon, Rian van Dam, and Vattenfall CEO Martijn Hagens.

The ceremony was completed when Indira and Hagens together revealed a sign showing the wind farm’s new name: Windpark Prinses Ariane, named after the youngest daughter of the Dutch King and Queen. The choice for this name was no coincidence. Vattenfall wants to make fossil-free living possible within one generation. Princess Ariane represents this next generation.

The wind farm, located in the Wieringermeer, comprises 82 Nordex type N117 / 3600 wind turbines, organised in line arrangements in order to blend the wind farm in the landscape. Each have a hub height of 118 metre, a tip height of 177 metre and a rated capacity of 3,675 MW. 81 are completed, 60 The last one has not been built yet due to objections from a local landowner.

Long process
Ten years of preparation and three years of construction preceded the opening of the wind farm. The project was not completed without any challenges nor was it always received positively by the environment. In addition to complaints from local residents about the shadow they cast and the height of the turbines and their red lights, there is also a general dislike with the fact that most of the produced electricity will go to Microsoft’s datacentre.

Willemijn van Meurs, development manager onshore wind at Vattenfall, compared the project with assembling a large, complicated puzzle due to the fact that it was built in a large area involving many and different stakeholders that had to be considered.

For example, 17 were allocated on grounds of a local gliding company. For these turbines to be realised, the gliding company had to be relocated. In addition, four turbines were be built in a forest, the Robbenoordbos. This was done in close cooperation with Staatstbosbeheer. It was the first time that wind turbines were installed in a forest. Complicated set of rules and regulations are involved when working in a forest. This brought along some challenges explained Ruben Lindenburg, the wind farm’s project director construction, such as the discovery of an empty honey buzzard’s nest from the previous year. The turbines could not be commissioned until it was made sure that the buzzard did not return to breed. One of the biggest set back however was a severe delay in the grid connection.

Surprisingly, the COVID-19 pandemic did not cause as many delays as expected back in March. Team members from abroad, some 60 in total, who normally worked on a 3-weeks on and 1-week off shift, were asked to stay so that traveling could be kept to a minimum and construction could continue. During the crisis a record was even broken: thanks to the calm spring weather, 16 wind turbines were installed in 6.5 weeks.

Various schemes have been set up to allow the environment to benefit from the wind farm. For example, there is a neighbors scheme for immediate neighbors and a wind fund, which supports projects in the community. These arrangements were made in consultation with the Environment Council, in which representatives of the region consult with Vattenfall.

Read also an interview with Ruben Lindenburg in 2019.

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