The cabinet plans to realise a total of 6000 MW of wind energy on the Dutch Continental Shelf (DCS) by 2020 (2009 National Water Plan draft, 2009-2019 North Sea Policy Memo). 228 MW of this was built in 2006 and 2007 in two so-called “first round wind farms” off the Egmond aan Zee coast, OWEZ (formerly NSW) and Prinses Amalia (formerly Q7). The “second round” provides for supportive financing, via the so-called SDE subsidy, for construction of 950 MW. Permits for twelve wind farms were issued in 2009. Currently, applications for the subsidy are submitted to the Ministry of Economic Affairs for the wind farms with a final permit. An interdepartmental workgroup is presently working on an approach that should result in realisation of the remaining approx. 5000 MW starting in 2011. This involves allotting space, granting permits and financial support. This workgroup will give its advice to the North Sea Interdepartmental Directors Meeting (NSIDM or IDON in Dutch) in the spring of 2010.
Offshore wind energy is of great importance for reaching the Dutch objective of 20% sustainable energy in 2020. 6000 MW of offshore wind energy can cover 10 to 15% of the Dutch energy needs sustainably. Moreover, there are opportunities and possibilities for the Dutch industry and knowledge institutes. In contrast to wind energy on land, the technology of wind at sea is still in its infancy. In order to accomplish the objective of 6000 MW, it is especially important to reduce the cost price.
On the basis of the experiences with the monitoring and research programmes of the existing first round wind farms (OWEZ and Prinses Amalia) and the responses to the proposed Monitoring and Evaluation Programmes (MEPs) in the draft permit regulations for the future wind farms in the second round1, the wish for a larger directive role by the government and an integrated research programming has emerged for both the initiators for offshore wind farms (OWFs) in the North Sea and for the government itself.
On 3 March 2009, a workshop was organised at RWS North Sea for interested parties in the market as well as the government. The role division between market and the government was discussed at this workshop. There was a broad consensus on a stronger directing function by the government. In particular there is a basis for an umbrella research programme and monitoring of relatively generic information as the task of the government, whereby the market could be responsible for supplying location-specific data. Incidentally, no decision has been made as yet on dividing such responsibilities between private and public parties.
Deltares was asked to work out the contents of a master plan for an umbrella monitoring and research programme required to fill in the gaps in information in determining the ecological effect of OWFs. This plan must use existing research programmes for OWFs in the Netherlands and abroad and, if possible, seek connection with other monitoring and research programmes that are not focused on OWFs. On the basis of this, a framework-formulating plan has been presented for obtaining information on the ecological effects of OWFs. We have indicated, by means of prioritisation, how this information can be filled in due course. In addition to setting up the content of this master plan, ideas are also provided for data management and international cooperation. The environmental effect reports and appropriate assessments made for the OWF in the second round are based on the so-called worst case scenarios, in accordance with the legal obligation. It is of utmost importance to investigate whether such scenarios are correct, or whether additional information would provide a more realistic assessment of the effects, so that decisions are also made on better estimate of effects, and worst-case scenarios play a lesser role in this. This master plan is not a blueprint for monitoring and research in the framework of the OWFs, but it does propose a framework, meaning that it provides the contextual and organisational frameworks as well as prioritisation for monitoring and researching the effects of construction, presence and removal of OWFs in the second and third rounds. Within these frameworks, choices can be made and additional measuring plans and field inventory can be set up on the basis of urgency and progressive insight.
This report has been written by several authors from various research institutes in the Netherlands. A.R. Boon is the main author and editor of this report and works at Deltares, Delft. R. ter Hofstede, T.C. Klok and M.F. Leopold all work at the Institute for Marine Research (IMARES), which is located in IJmuiden, Den Helder and at Texel, G. Blacquière works at TNO, The Hague. R.A. Kastelein works at SeaMarco, Harderwijk. M.J.M. Poot works at Bureau Waardenburg, Culemborg. C.J. Camphuysen works at the Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research, Texel.