‘Government policy curbs development’

The fast growing market for offshore wind energy holds plenty of opportunities for the Netherlands, says Jos Beurskens. On behalf of ECN, he was co-organiser of a large European wind conference held in Copenhagen last April. However, because offshore wind is getting low priority in government policy, the Netherlands are about to miss the boat.

Source: BNR Nieuwsradio

Read the explanation of Sander Lensink, policy researcher:

On BNR Nieuwsradio, former ECN colleague Jos Beurskens offered some suggestions for improving Dutch policy for wind energy. The current policy for offshore wind energy has a strong focus on innovation. The approach with innovation contracts is forceful, but Jos is right in pointing out that wind energy also needs practical applications. Some things just need to be experienced to learn from them.

North Sea as back yard

The Dutch government mainly wants to deploy the lowest cost technologies to realise the sustainable energy target. As a result, new wind projects at sea will no longer be subsidised. This means that the Netherlands will not gain new practical experience in the construction of wind farms for the time being. Although Jos underlines the importance of a home market to get an innovative sector off the ground, it is fair to say that the entire North Sea as back yard of the Netherlands is a useful home market. As long as England, Germany, Belgium and Germany are willing to invest in new wind farms, it is not the end of the world.

Harbour facilities

Wind farms do not arise because an energy company places a few turbines in the sea; this process involves multiple suppliers. The Netherlands has a vested interest in offshore wind energy, even without Dutch project developers or Dutch wind turbines. Dutch suppliers such as shipbuilder Damen, dredger Van Oord or giant crane manufacturer Mammoet will fall behind if new wind farms are to be developed far away from Dutch territory. One way to get wind farms ‘closer’ is to offer sufficient harbour facilities from which wind farms can be built or maintained.

Vital sector

If the government persists in its principle of 'this is as far as we will go', i.e. willing to invest only in technologies that have a current cost price of 15 eurocent per kilowatt-hour, the least it can do is ensure flanking policy. By convincing foreign parties to develop new wind farms from the Netherlands, we are offering Dutch businesses a better opportunity to compete on an international level. This also enables Dutch businesses to combine learning and doing, allowing the wind energy sector to stay a vital component of our economy.

Rollout

No matter how usable the innovation contracts are, Jos Beurskens is right in saying that a good innovation climate requires broad policy: not just research and development, but also deployment (‘rollout’). Refraining entirely from building new wind farms at sea because they are too expensive may cost us dearly.