Climate change conference was all about clean energy
THE HAGUE--All 400,000 kilowatt hours of electricity
that powered the Climate Conference in The Hague were
produced without emitting a single molecule of carbon
dioxide (CO2) into the atmosphere. How?
With the windmills and solar panels of Nuon International,
the largest utility in the Netherlands.
“The power used to light and heat the conference
center and run the computers, copiers and faxes of
6,000 participants equals about one half the annual
production of a 160-foot windmill,” said Annemarie
Goedmakers, director of Nuon. The electricity consumed
at the conference during the past two weeks would
sustain nearly 1,400 average Dutch households for
"We thought it was a worthwhile cause to make all
of the energy for a conference like this CO2
free," said Goedmakers. The Dutch ministry of the
environment invited her company to sponsor the climate
conference with green energy. Nuon runs 18 wind farms
in the Netherlands, and others in China, India and
the United Kingdom. Its solar panels, representing
an investment of $4 million, provide about one megawatt
of power, even in the fairly weak Dutch sunlight.
The green windmill in the conference press center
is a smaller version of the typical Nuon turbine,
but it is no toy. The windmill produces about 5000-kilowatt
hours of electricity per year, enough to power an
average household for 18 months. It last stood with
five others atop the Dutch pavilion at Expo 2000 in
Hanover, Germany. The windmills, designed especially
for the event, provided a significant portion of the
electricity for the Dutch exhibit.
The 2.6 million household, business and industrial
customers of Nuon are free to choose whether they
want electricity produced using green technology,
which currently costs 20 percent more than conventional
power. Nuon began giving customers this environmentally
friendly option in 1996. The number of customers going
green has doubled every year since then. Currently,
40,000 Nuon customers choose wind and solar electricity.
About five percent of the company's 2000 total sales
stem from renewable energy sources. In 1999, with
just 20,000 green customers online, Nuon estimates
that this environmentally friendly program cut CO2
emissions in Holland by almost 44,000 tons.
"Any utility could do this if they wanted to," said
Goedmakers. "Maybe they think the program is just
too small and requires too much attention to get started."
[Editor's Note: Article refers to U.N. Framework
Convention on Climate Change, The Hague, The Netherlands,
November 2000, reported in www.earthtimes.org November