Farmer Noud de Schutter

By Paul Gipe

Noud de Schutter is president of Vereniging Windenergie Noord Holland (the wind turbine owners association of North Holland) and a farmer with 40 hectares (about 100 acres) of tilled crops (all 4 meters below sea level). The de Schutter farm is in the northeast corner of the province of Noord Holland near the IJsselmeer. The farm’s principle source of income is from rental of cold storage space to neighboring farmers. Noud de Schutter was a pioneer of cold storage of farm crops in Noord Holland. He is also a pioneer in wind energy “farming.”

He installed an 18 meter, 80 kW Lagerwey in 1992. (Many other farmers in the Wieringemeer polder also operate Lagerwey turbines.) The turbine stands within 2 meters of one of de Schutter’s barns and looms over the central farmyard. This one machine generates 200,000 kWh per year nearly matching the farms annual consumption. (There is some surplus generation in the winter, and a small deficit in the summer.) The Lagerwey turbine has failed once, throwing a blade onto the nearby farm road and topping into the farmyard. The control panel, inverter, and interconnection are all in the utility room adjoining the house. (This is a traditional Noord Holland farm building where half or 3/4 of the building is a barn, the remainder is the living area. The entrance to the living area passes through the utility room where the turbine’s controls are located.) De Schutter also owns another 80 kW Lagerwey in a cooperative.

Noud de Schutter’s Lagerwey in the Wierengemeer polder.

De Schutter also now owns a 1/4 interest in five 600 kW Micon wind turbines in a string along a canal at the border of his property. His neighbor owns another 1/4 interest as does Micon, the manufacturer, and the local utility, ENW. The turbines were recently installed and the project is viewed as a possible model for future projects in Noord Holland and elsewhere in the Netherlands.

De Schutter and other farmers pay 0.18 NLG/kWh ($0.108/kWh) to purchase electricity. ENW pays de Schutter 0.15 NLG/kWh ($0.08/kWh) for excess generation from his Lagerwey. When he installed the Lagerwey, de Schutter received a 35% capital subsidy. He had no problems with interconnection.

The wind farm of five Micons has a 10 year contract with ENW (one of the partners) for a tariff of 0.15 NLG/kWh. The contract, like that of the warranty contract is written in both Dutch and English and is certified by a notary. (Notaries in Europe perform some functions only performed by attorneys in the United States: they prepare and certify legal documents.) The contracts are written in English because Micon is also a partner and the language common to the Dutch and Danish partners is English.


Micon turbines on the property line of Noud de Schutter’s farm in the Wierengemeer polder north of Amsterdam. NedWind two blade turbines offshore in the background.

Micon provides a 20 year guarantee, which includes a guarantee for lost energy production based on a meteorological assessment by ECN. (This did not include any on-site measurements.) The contract also required insurance (including lightning) and an operations and maintenance contract. Micon’s guarantee doesn’t cover damage if a dike breaks.

The project qualified for a 35% capital subsidy for installation in January 1996 (this program expired at the end of 1995) and will generate 6 million kWh annually.

The owners provided only 20% of the equity, which was more than recouped immediately with the capital subsidy. The bank uses the turbines as collateral (project financing), but does require title to the land lease and utility contract should the company fail. The farmers lease the land that the turbines stand on to the project and are paid accordingly.

This was the first project financed by Groene Fonds in the Netherlands. Rabobank provided 10-year financing at 4.9%.

The utility spent 2 million NLG ($1.2 million) on line improvements, but the project only paid part of the costs. (No doubt because the utility was a partner in the project!) The utility, ENW, not surprisingly said most of the infrastructure expenditure provided system wide benefits.

The road to the six Micon turbines was unbarred, and unfenced. The road is narrow, but paved. Access to the turbines from the road is hardened with porous interlocking blocks. Transformers are housed in attractive architectural shelters.