'Tripling Wind Energy Capacity a Big Mistake’
THE HAGUE, 04/06/13 - The Netherlands is making a big mistake by putting a big emphasis on wind energy, warn Labour (PvdA) economists Willem Vermeend and Rick van der Ploeg.
The Netherlands is targeting an enormous expansion in the number of wind turbines. This is an important part of the national energy accord on which the Socio-Economic Council (SER) is currently negotiating, it emerges from a draft accord obtained by various media.
Plans for tripling the power generated by wind on land were already known. In the draft accord of the SER, on which government representatives as well as employer organisations and unions sit, it says however that another 3,200 megawatts (MW) should be generated offshore in 2020, growing further to 5,000 MW by 2023.
This means that a big wish of environmental organisations appears to be coming to fruition. Currently, there are just two wind parks producing a combined 228 MW, with another twin in the pipeline for a combined 750 MW.
In exchange for the gesture to the environmental movement, the coal tax (130 million euros per year) will be abolished in 2014 and energy companies will be subsidised to use biomass in coal-fired plants up to a maximum of 8 percent of Dutch electricity consumption. They will however voluntarily close the five oldest coal-fired plants.
The employers have won the condition important to them that the Netherlands will not take any measures off its own at to drive up the price of CO2, as happened last year with the coal tax. Due their pressure, it has also been stipulated that the goal for sustainable energy in 2020 will lie between the 14 percent of the total EU target and the 16 percent coalition accord target. One idea is to import the difference from Germany, which has a surplus of green electricity.
Vermeend and Van der Ploeg consider the plans unwise. The former Social Affairs Minister and former Culture and Media State Secretary say in a joint article in De Telegraaf newspaper that it would be better to opt for solar energy.
"In view of the serious objections and costs associated with wind energy alone, the top choice of wind is incomprehensible, the two PvdA economists declare. “This is all the more the case now that it has been established that solar energy is the future, attracts less objections, demands less government subsidies and will create more employment for our country and can lead to a new innovative business sector in the Netherlands.”
The most important objections to wind energy, according to the two economists, are the billions in government subsidies estimated to be necessary with wind energy. Other objections are the dependence on the wayward wind, the relatively high maintenance costs of wind turbines, their ugliness in the landscape and the associated damaging of the housing and living environment and the possible erosion of the value of homes in the case onshore wind farms. Additionally, it would be necessary to maintain an expensive reserve capacity wih traditional energy plants in order to be able to deliver sufficient electricity in case of a dearth of wind.