The largest freshwater wind farm in the world

Largest windfarm: Aerial view of a wind farm from a satellite.
View larger. | The Operational Land Imager on Landsat 8 captured this image on July 8, 2023. It shows what’s now the largest freshwater wind farm in the world – Windpark Fryslân – with its precisely spaced turbines rising out of Lake IJssel in the central Netherlands. Their arrangement in a hexagon shape minimizes how much they obstruct the view of the horizon. And the 20-mile-long (32-km-long) Afsluitdijk – a major dam and causeway, prominent in the image, separating the lake from the Wadden Sea – also provides flood protection. Image via Wanmei Liang/ NASA Earth Observatory.

The Netherlands now has the largest freshwater wind farm in the world. It’s called Windpark Fryslân and has 89 wind turbines generating enough electricity to power about half a million homes.

World’s largest freshwater wind farm

Windpark Fryslân began construction in 2020, and, by the fall of 2021, was already generating power. In 2022, the wind farm generated 1.236 terawatt hours. And its builders anticipate it will reach 1.5 terawatt hours every year. That’s roughly 1.2 percent of the all the electricity used in the Netherlands. It’s enough to power around 500,000 homes.

Constructing the wind farm

Constructing a wind farm in a lake (Lake IJssel in the central Netherlands) was challenging, to say the least. But the Netherlands has experience with building dikes and dams for flood control. One of the companies that helped build the wind farm, Van Oord, said:

A major constraint was the size of ships that could be used to transport construction materials and turbine components to the site. The vessels had to both fit through the locks in the dike and operate in the shallow waters of the lake.

In addition, installing the rotors, which are 130 meters (430 feet) in diameter, required finding windows of relative calm in a naturally windy place.

So, in the end, they successfully built two sets of locks, one of which is located at the tiny village of Kornwerderzand, which was built on an artificial island created during the dam’s construction. The area is now also a bird and nature sanctuary. Additionally, this small island is about 5 acres (2 hectares) surrounded by 60 acres (25 hectares) of shallow water that is a habitat for fish.

So the Dutch now have a wind farm generating energy and a new wildlife habit. And they intend to use the area for other recreational activities. For example, this fall, Windpark Fryslân will host a sailing race that weaves through the turbine.

It’ll be known as the Windmill Cup.

Bottom line: Windpark Fryslân is the largest freshwater wind farm in the world and can generate enough power to run about 500,000 homes in the Netherlands.

Via NASA Earth Observatory

Read about the London Array, the world’s largest offshore wind farm, located 12 miles (20 km) from England’s Kent and Essex coasts in the Thames Estuary, where the River Thames meets the North Sea.

August 9, 2023

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