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Climate change conference was all about clean energy

Nov 27, 2000 - www.earthtimes.org

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 a year.

"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 27, 2000]