Opening Zuidwester

  • The farm is part of one of Europe’s largest wind power projects

  • Twelve of the world’s largest onshore wind turbines (7.5MW each) replace 50 older models

  • 90MW installed capacity along the shore of the IJsselmeer

  • Total investment of roughly €150 million

One of Europe’s largest wind farm projects officially opens today at Noordoostpolder in the Netherlands. The wind power project with a total output of 430 megawatts consists of 86 wind turbines operated by different partners. The turbines have not only been installed just off the coast in the IJsselmeer (nearshore) but also on land along the coastal dike (onshore). The combined output of these installations is sufficient to supply roughly 400,000 households a year with green electricity.

The innogy Zuidwester wind farm with 90 megawatts of installed capacity is part of this enormous wind power project. Twelve of what are currently the world’s most powerful onshore turbines are now turning on this site. Built by turbine manufacturer ENERCON, each of the turbines has an output of 7.5 megawatts. In all, innogy has invested roughly €150 million in the Zuidwester wind farm.

Hans Bünting, Chief Operating Officer (COO) Renewables of innogy SE, says: “We built Zuidwester at a wind site that has a long tradition and that has always placed great emphasis on pioneering spirit. The first – and, for their time, most advanced – turbines already began turning here in the 1980s. Significant progress has been made since then. Thanks to enormous advances in this technology, wind turbines have developed into one of the most cost-effective means of generating electricity – something that is clearly shown by the results of the latest wind auctions. That is why we are backing the continued expansion of wind energy and, in the process, making our contribution to the success of the European energy transition.”

Technical progress par excellence: sixfold increase in output at proven site

The twelve state-of-the-art turbines of the Zuidwester wind farm replace 50 installations dating from the 1980s and 1990s. Statistically, one of the new turbines on its own can generate as much electricity as all 50 earlier models combined. The total installed capacity of the wind farm has increased sixfold from 15 to 90 megawatts; annual production has risen ten times. The new turbines have been operating at full capacity since the beginning of 2017 and feed enough climate-friendly electricity into the grid to supply approximately 80,000 households a year.

Hans-Dieter Kettwig, CEO of ENERCON GmbH, says: “The Noordoostpolder wind energy project and its Zuidwester subproject demonstrate that, with regard to restructuring of the energy system, the renewables are pushing forward into large-scale industry dimensions and effectively use limited land resources. Renewable large-scale power plants like this make a vital contribution to the success of the energy transition. We are happy to have been able to implement this showcase project together with innogy, and that we received broad local support from all parties involved, including farmers and the population.”

XXL turbine technology

Building work for the Zuidwester wind farm began in March 2014 with the construction of the substation, the laying of the electricity cables and the building of the foundations and towers. Work on the first wind turbine was completed in autumn 2015. In a first step, the nacelle was placed on top of the hybrid tower at a height of 135 metres with a mobile lattice-boom crane that is currently one of the largest of its kind. This was followed by the 220-tonne generator and the hub with the central rotor section. The final step involved the mounting of the individual rotor blades, which have a diameter of 127 metres and sweep an area of 1.25 hectares – the equivalent of over 1.5 football pitches. The commissioning of all twelve turbines was carried out in stages, and since the beginning of 2017 all the turbines have been feeding green electricity into the grid. With a total height of 200 metres, the turbines are even taller than Cologne Cathedral (157 metres).