Accelerating the energy transition: the Vattenfall approach in the Netherlands

Offshore wind farms are technological masterpieces. The rapid developments boost sustainability ambitions as well as cost savings. This is important because the Dutch government is currently not providing subsidies for wind farms and accelerating the energy transition is at the center of attention. For the new wind farm Hollandse Kust Zuid, Vattenfall unites its technological expertise and ambitions for a fossil free future.

Vattenfall has a wealth of experience with the design, construction and operation of offshore wind farms in Sweden, Denmark, Germany, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. “New projects such as Hollandse Kust Zuid benefit from our international expertise,” says Ireen Geerbex, offshore wind development project manager at Vattenfall.

Technology boosts wind turbine power

In recent years, the capacity of offshore wind turbines has increased rapidly. Whereas 3 megawatts (MW) turbines were the standard between 2007 and 2014 (each providing power for around 3500 households per year), technological innovations have tripled the power of the turbines in just a few years. Geerbex: “In order to be competitive in future projects – especially because wind projects in for example the Netherlands are being tendered without a subsidy – it is crucial to cooperate closely with the turbine suppliers. This way we are able to better respond to the latest technological developments. Because Vattenfall has successfully established partnerships with suppliers in recent years, we can optimally apply the latest technological innovations in our projects – even before they are available in the market.”

Vattenfall recently announced that the latest Siemens Gamesa turbine (SG10.0-193DD) of no less than 10 MW will be used in Hollandse Kust Zuid. “This turbine offers many benefits for both the project and the environment,” says Gijs Nijsten, permit development manager for Hollandse Kust Zuid at Vattenfall. “The most important benefits of this turbine are a 30 percent increase in energy output and reduced ecological impact. We would not have achieved this without intensive cooperation between Vattenfall and Siemens Gamesa.”

Prize-winning software model

Another recent technological development is the new software model that Vattenfalls Lead Engineer and PhD Martina Fischetti has developed, for which she received the Danish Industrial Researcher prize 2019. With this design program, the exact locations of offshore wind turbines and cables can be optimized. This increases energy output, speeds up the design process and considerably reduces the costs of the wind farm. Over its entire lifespan, this model can realize around ten million euros of cost savings per wind farm. The new technology is already being used for Hollandse Kust Zuid and is one of the tools that Vattenfall uses for the development of future wind farms.

Valuable knowledge and experience

The costs for offshore wind turbines have fallen spectacularly in recent years: in 2018 the costs were 70 percent lower than in 2013. This allowed the Dutch government to successfully launch the very first subsidy-free tender for an offshore wind farm ever: Hollandse Kust Zuid 1 & 2. Vattenfall has started the preparatory works for the 760 MW wind farm, which will be supplying electricity as of late 2022. Geerbex: “We are gaining a lot of experience for sites 1 and 2 that we would like to use for future projects, such as the recently tendered sites 3 and 4 of Hollandse Kust Zuid, for which Vattenfall has handed in a bid. If Vattenfall wins this tender, we can combine all four sites into one large project, allowing us to further optimize the wind farm in many ways. For example by building on the knowledge of the location optimizing the design process and benefiting from synergy effects during the construction and of course maintenance of the wind farm. These benefits result in further cost savings. Also, this knowledge and experience is valuable for other future projects.”

Green electricity

Geerbex points out that the fact that the tender is subsidy-free is a challenge. “You have to bring a very solid proposal to the table. Obviously the financial capabilities for the investment and recent experience from similar projects, but above all you have to create certainty with regard to your revenues. Without subsidy and with uncertain developments of the electricity price, you need to have access to different sales channels.”

Vattenfall is assured of an extensive network during the operational phase of the wind farm. Nijsten: “We have many private and business customers in the Netherlands and we see that they have an increasing demand for renewable electricity. This means we can deploy the energy to our customers.”

From ambition to realization

Making fossil free living possible within one generation, that is the Vattenfall ambition. Now that Nuon has taken over the name of its parent company, the international experience and strength of Vattenfall are more clearly visible. Geerbex: “Vattenfall’s commitment to the Dutch market and a sustainable future is strong.” At Hollandse Kust Zuid 1 & 2, a committed Vattenfall team together with partners jointly take the next step to realize the energy transition. “It would be great if we could extend this to future projects that will be tendered in the Netherlands,” concludes Geerbex.

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About Vattenfall

Vattenfall generates and supplies electricity, heating, cooling and gas as well as offering customers a variety of sustainable solutions. Vattenfall want to achieve fossil-free energy generation within one generation. This Swedish energy company is investing heavily in wind energy to achieve this aim. We are working towards a sustainable world, for now and in the future.