Towards large-scale generation of wind energy

The Dutch government has agreed with the energy sector that the near future will already see a substantial share of all energy generated from sustainable sources. In addition to solar energy, wind energy is the sustainable energy source on which the future energy system will largely be based. ECN part of TNO supports both the government and the energy sector with advice, research and development.


The recently proposed Climate Act is a consequence of the Paris Climate Agreement in which 55 countries, together responsible for 55% of total greenhouse gas emissions, made commitments in 2015 to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and thus limit global warming. To achieve this, the use of fossil fuels must be phased out and replaced by renewable fuels.

Provide electricity for 7 million households

Five wind farms have now been realised in the Dutch part of the North Sea: off the coast of Egmond aan Zee, off the coast of IJmuiden and north of the Wadden islands (Ameland and Schiermonnikoog). 700MW will be realised annually until 2023, and 1000MW of offshore wind will be added annually from 2023 to 2030. The aim is for the wind farms together to produce 11,000 MegaWatt of electricity by 2030, which is equivalent to the annual use of more than 11 million households.

ECN part of TNO has a great deal of knowledge and expertise about the (further) development of individual wind turbines and a great deal of knowledge to predict how much force the wind exerts on the blades of the turbine and to what extent that force deforms the blades. If that force becomes too great, the blades start to vibrate and eventually fail. Continuous research is being carried out to use better materials and techniques to build larger and more powerful wind turbines to generate wind energy at ever lower costs.

Optimal profit and pilots

It is not only the design of the individual wind turbine that determines the yield. The location at sea and the position of the wind turbines in relation to each other are also important factors. With special wind farm controls, the wind turbines are coordinated in such a way to minimise wake losses that occur due to the wind speed being lower directly behind the turbine. ECN part of TNO is carrying out pilots to achieve optimum yield from an integrated design of medium-sized and large offshore wind farms.

Innovative technology is also used in the installation, transport, management and maintenance of wind farms. ECN part of TNO has developed models that make it possible to calculate exactly which maintenance of which turbine is the most cost-efficient and when.

Smart connection to land

Heavy infrastructure makes it possible to transport generated energy directly by sea from one country to another, enabling energy companies to supply electricity where yield is greatest while, at the same time, avoiding congestion: surpluses in one country can easily be transported to another. ECN part of TNO is conducting research into technologies for connecting the energy generated at sea to the onshore networks.

Harm Jeeninga M.A.

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Harm Jeeninga M.A.

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