Wind is not pure green

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To the Editor:

With growing interest I read the article about DONG Wind Energy and its plans to build a wind farm southwest of Martha’s Vineyard (March 24, “DONG Energy meets and greets Islanders”).

Here in the Netherlands our government is very positive about building wind farms at sea or on land; “green energy” is hot in the Netherlands, so the big energy companies are now looking for every piece of free farmland or open space that’s available to put a wind turbine on.

As your readers probably know, windmills are a common part of the culture in Holland and most of the people love them, but then I am referring to the historic ones and not those 100-plus meter-high skyscrapers that clutter the free horizon everywhere you look.

With the growing resistance against land-based wind turbines they decided to put them at sea, just about 12 nautical miles west of IJmuidenport, the place where I live.

At the moment we have three operational wind farms with a total of 140 wind turbines in a 29-square nautical-mile area. We boat fishermen are not allowed to enter a wind farm and there’s even a one-mile safety area around every wind farm.  It’s prohibited to enter a wind farm, and if the coast guard spots you a ticket of 1,000-plus euros is a possibility.

And from a “green point of view” I have my doubts too, when I check these farms from the vessel traffic station where I work, I often notice that a lot of times many of these turbines are not turning at all — still I can switch on the lights — how can that be?

Another thing is the never-ending maintenance required.  Everyday, early in the morning, a fleet of about 15 so-called “windcats” (60-foot, fast catamarans) leave the port to bring the mechanics to the wind farms. Every windcat is equipped with about 2,000 horsepower each, so that times 15 is about 30,000 hp — what do they mean, green energy?

So am I against wind energy? No, but I think it’s good to stay a bit critical when they try to sell you a green solution.

I wish you all a great striper season and hope that soon there will be an opportunity for me to “jump over” to your beautiful Island.

Antoni “Ton” Kalkman
IJmuidenport, Holland

Mr. Kalkman is a ship controller for the port of Amsterdam, and has regularly visited the Island to fish for striped bass. Ed.