On 26 March 2015, the House of Representatives (Tweede Kamer) passed the legislative proposal for the Offshore Wind Energy Act (Wet windenergie op zee), which introduces a new permit and subsidy system for the construction and exploitation of offshore wind farms. This is an important step towards realisation of the renewable energy targets as set out in the National Energy Agreement, which provides (among others) that in 2023 (i) 16% of the Dutch final energy consumption must come from renewable sources and (ii) an offshore wind production capacity of 4.45 GW must be operational. The Minister stated in a letter to parliament dated 23 March 2015, that the subsidy costs for offshore wind during 2019 to 2039 are currently expected to be approximately € 12 billion.
The Act intends to simplify and expedite the decision-making process for realisation of offshore wind projects. The Dutch government will draft so-called wind farm site decisions (kavelbesluiten), in which the location for a wind farm and the conditions under which it may be constructed and operated will be specified. The Act further provides that the permit to develop a wind farm on a particular wind farm site is awarded to the winner of the subsidy tender. The Act also sets certain requirements for the granting of a permit, including that the construction and exploitation of the wind farm is (technically and financially) feasible and that exploitation can commence within four years after the permit has become irrevocable.
During the debate in the House of Representatives on 25 March 2015, several amendments were proposed, however none of these amendments were approved. One of the amendments aimed to prevent that wind farm sites would be designated within the Dutch territorial sea (i.e. that wind farms would be built within the 12 nautical mile zone), however, as stated above, this amendment was declined. In addition, several motions were proposed; a motion in respect of underwater noise has been deferred. The debate in the House of Representatives further revolved around the costs of the offshore grid which is intended to be built and operated by the Dutch TSO TenneT (and to which end another legislative proposal – STROOM – is currently being prepared). In a letter to parliament, the Minister clarified that the investments costs for the offshore grid, which will connect the wind farms to the onshore grid, will be € 2.4 billion (excluding maintenance and financing costs).
The Act will be sent to the Senate (Eerste Kamer) shortly and is expected to enter into force on 1 July 2015. The call for tender for the first two wind farm sites (i.e. Borssele wind farm site I and II) is expected to be issued in December 2015. The formal consultation concerning the wind farm site decision for Borssele will commence in the 3nd quarter of 2015.
The Dutch text of the Act can be found here.