This week the Gemini wind farm was opened off the coast of the Netherlands, with projections that it will eventually meet the energy needs of 1.5 million people. The wind farm, which consists of 150 turbines situated about 55km out in the North Sea, will generate about 13% of the Netherlands’ renewable energy supply, and its output will constitute about 25% of the country’s total wind power resources.
Gemini: Not Just Hot Air
Renewable energy is a hot topic in the Netherlands, which is almost solely reliant on fossil fuels for its energy production. The Dutch government has therefore set the goal of generating 14% of its energy needs from renewable sources by 2020, and 16% by 2023. The ultimate aim is to be carbon neutral by 2050. The Gemini windpark, which has become operational earlier than planned, is a stepping stone towards achieving this goal.
A ‘Huge Breakthrough’
The owners of the Gemini wind farm have hailed the success of the project as an ‘enorme doorbraak’ (huge breakthrough). However, not all observers are equally thrilled. It has been pointed out that the Gemini project, which cost a modest 2.8 billion EUR, is overpriced. An opinion piece in De Volkskrant noted that the 150 wind turbines now spinning off the coast of Ameland will produce energy at a cost of 17 cents per kilowatt hour. Whereas the wind farms which are currently being planned for the coast of Zeeland will produce energy at a cost of 5 cents per kilowatt hour. Seemingly the process has become cheaper in the time that it took for Gemini to be built.
All the same, whether you like wind energy or not, it is hard to suck the wind out the sails of those involved with the project. Gemini’s managing director, Matthias Haag, described the wind farm as a symbol which proves that ‘a very large project can be built on time, and in a very safe environment’. Great care was indeed taken for the environment during the construction of the wind turbines: work on the site did not begin in 2015 until the porpoise breeding season was over.