​Hundreds of Dutch farmers sign $560 million wind-farm deal

A collective of more than 200 farmers in a rural part of the Netherlands got financing to build one of the largest onshore wind farms in the country.

Windpark Zeewolde BV secured 500 million euros ($561 million) of debt from Rabobank to construct the 322-megawatt wind farm about 50 kilometres east of Amsterdam.

The group plans to replace more than 200 old windmills scattered across the area with 83 new turbines from Vestas Wind Systems A/S. The park is set to be completed in 2022.

The wind farm is an example of a process known as re-powering, where older turbines are replaced by new ones. Wind technology has improved so much over the years that developers can use far fewer turbines and still get more power than that provided by older models.

“This project represents a step change for re-powering in Europe,” said Oliver Metcalfe, a wind analyst at BloombergNEF. The finished project will be more than four times the size of the next biggest re-powered wind farm currently in operation on the continent, he said.

It could also prove a good example for gaining more local support for wind parks. While opposition to wind farms from some residents has grown across Europe, the Dutch project includes 90 per cent of residents within 300 kilometres among its shareholders.

“It’s a model for how to develop a wind farm, everyone participates,” said Sjoerd Sieburgh Sjoerdsma, managing director of the park.

The deal is also a blow to Germany’s Enercon GmbH, which previously had a contract to supply turbines for the wind park. After financial close was delayed on the project, Enercon raised its price, Sieburgh Sjoerdsma said. So the contract wasn’t renewed and the company chose Vestas as the supplier.

A spokesman for Enercon said that because of costs related to the delay and an improved turbine performance, it asked to adjust the price. But the parties couldn’t reach an agreement.

“It was decided that termination of the cooperation would be the only way to deal with the new unfortunate situation,” an Enercon spokesman said by email.

© 2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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