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Vader PIet

Leading wind energy expert Henk Hutting discusses NuCapital’s Aruban project


In electricity generator WEB Aruba NV´s vision of realising cleaner, greener and fuel-oil free power generation, green energy company NuCapital’s Vader Piet wind park has played a significant role. With ten wind turbines producing 3 megawatts of electricity each, the project, which has capacity to comprise up to 20% of Aruba’s total electricity generation, has surpassed initial expectations and forms part of ongoing proof that commonplace estimations of the potential contribution of wind parks to national grids continues to be undervalued.

In 2007, when Henk Hutting proffered the most competitive bid in the Aruban Government’s tender offer for the construction of Vader Piet, the wind power vendor was able to bring decades of expertise in wind farm design, integration of wind energy into island systems and the development of greenfield national wind park projects to the table, as well as exclusive technology to enhance the efficacy of the project.

Having assisted in developing the first wind farm in the Netherlands and advised on the first wind farm in the Caribbean, in the 1980s and 1990s respectively, Hutting had also conducted feasibility studies for wind farms on Aruba in 1996 and 2003. By 2007, the same year as Hutting had commenced the design of a 365 turbine flagship wind farm project in Kenya, he was best placed to offer Aruba, through his own company, the opportunity of producing energy for a third of the price then obtained by oil.

“The break-even price for Aruba was at a price per barrel of oil of something like $48,” said Hutting. “The global oil price was then in the $150 range so they paid only one third to the wind farm. Now, Aruba is also more protected against future oil price rises.

“In the economic evaluation from the five bids submitted during the tendering process, our bid was $100 million better over the lifetime of the project than the second best bid,” Hutting recounts. “Much of that has to do with unique innovations that we offered such as giving the control of the wind farm output to WEB Aruba itself and, on top of that, we provided accurate power output predictions,” said Hutting.

As such, while Vader Piet is run by NuCapital, of which Hutting is CEO, with Aruba as the exclusive purchaser of the power produced, the project has also generated jobs and created knowledge for the Aruban workforce as the grid connection, electrical interconnection and related aspects are all done locally.

Furthermore, Hutting’s expertise in advanced feasibility studies allows him to take on all the development risk. “We take on the full risk of the investment,” said Hutting. “Then the islands can save money. When we discussed the second wind farm, Prime Minister Eman commented that he loves not having the burden of risk and investment but still makes a million a month,” Hutting relayed.

Enhancing efficiency further, Vader Piet also benefits from a technology, custom built for NuCapital in Australia, the Lidar system, that measures wind speeds up to 10KM away so that less diesel fuel needs to be burnt in guarding against dips in the system.

“Nobody else has made wind energy a reliable source in an affordable way before,” explained Hutting. “Our knowledge on how to integrate a wind farm into the total supply and demand system is our competitive advantage.”

The establishment of Aruba’s second wind park, Urirama, is now also in progress under Hutting’s leadership.

Source: Newsweek 3 Feb 2017

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