Wind Turbines in Science Park: Green Energy in Our Backyard

By Anna Debeye

Collage by Camie Clarkson

— The municipality of Amsterdam wishes to build 17 new wind turbines by 2030 in order to produce energy for 425.000 households in Amsterdam (80% of all households). The municipal government believes this to be a crucial step towards a climate neutral Amsterdam. From 2022 to 2025 the municipality will be working together with local residents and stakeholders to establish the specific locations and to reduce the hindrance as much as possible. One of the preferred areas chosen by the municipality is Science Park. However, most parties within the current “Stadsdeel Commissie” – a council that advises the municipality about the city district they represent – disagree with the placement of turbines in the Science Park area. Similarly, residents show resistance towards the plans as they fear for noise pollution, health issues and damage to nature.

The proposed areas for wind turbines near Science Park. Source: Gemeente Amsterdam.

The students of Amsterdam University College and others living on Carolina MacGillavrylaan are firm supporters of green energy and wind turbines. However, people often think wind turbines are great in theory, but not in their own neighbourhood. This mindset can also be found within AUC. The students do not necessarily disagree with the possibility of wind turbines close to Science Park, but nevertheless suggest that they might fit better in less populated areas around Amsterdam. 

Mirthe van Veen, a second year social science student, remarks that she does not find it great that the turbines would be put in the middle of a residential area. Furthermore, she is afraid the wind might carry the noise of the turbines quite far into the neighbourhood. Nonetheless, some other AUC students address that the urgency of the situation does not leave us with much of a choice. Monika Narozna, a second year social science student, mentions the importance of immediate action: “I am happy they are doing anything at all, because it is necessary now to take some action, especially regarding energy”. Similarly, Richard Essink, a second year science student, recognizes that the turbines are “in essence necessary, everyone has to do their part to mitigate climate damage.” Furthermore, Monika mentioned that people live in the dorms on Carolina MacGillavrylaan quite temporarily and the negative consequences of the wind turbines are thus easier to accept, as they are only for a short period of time. 

Many members of the Stadsdeel Commissie Oost oppose the wind turbines. Ron Smit, a committee member from the party De Groenen Basis Piraten, explains that the turbines would be placed too close to private residences and as this caused much objection in IJburg – another possible location – the party objects to the placement of the turbines in the Science Park area. Smit is referencing the protests that took place in IJburg in 2021. Residents of the area believed the turbines would become too big of a nuisance in the neighbourhood. Not only would they ruin the view, but they would also cause noise pollution and health issues according to the protestors. As a result, this plan has been almost completely cancelled, which leaves the municipality with the task of finding alternative locations. 

Mark van Dongen, representative of the Socialistische Partij (SP) in the Stadsdeel Commissie, expresses that the same problems will arise in Science Park as in IJburg. Although SP agrees with the use of wind turbines, the party believes that they should not be built at the expense of the local residents. “It is mainly about the noise they produce, people will actually get ill as a result,” van Dongen explains. The turbines should therefore according to SP not be placed in a residential area. At the moment, the municipality researches possible effects of wind turbines on health and will not make any final decisions on the placement until autumn 2022 when the research is expected to have been completed.

Van Dongen discloses that the discussion about wind turbines has been turned into a large political debate and most political parties are either for or against green energy and unwilling to budge. Possible alternatives to the Science Park area that SP suggests are the western harbour of Amsterdam or the North Sea in order to avoid disturbing any residents. Additionally, van Dongen wishes the government would look at alternative sources of green energy, such as solar panels. However, the municipality is mainly concerned with wind energy as the Regionale Energie Strategie (RES) requires regions around the Netherlands to produce a certain amount of wind energy by 2030. None of the locations are certain yet and van Dongen therefore believes that Science Park might be taken out of consideration, as it will cause much protest if the municipality were to actually build these turbines within a residential area. 

The residents of Carolina MacGillavrylaan 2082-3198 – the green apartment buildings next to the Science Park train station – live even closer to the potential location of the turbines, but seem quite positive towards the idea. They express concern about the environment and a wish to change the current climate situation. Samarth Tiwari, a PHD student at CWI, reasons that, although the wind turbines have a negative impact on the neighbourhood, this is outweighed by the positive effects they have on the environment: “Of course there will be an impact on the environment, but producing fossil fuels and burning stuff has a greater effect on the environment”. Other residents of the area specify some conditions regarding the turbines. Corbian Schlosser, a PHD student at CWI, mentions that they should not influence the wildlife around the area and Luca Groß, a PHD student at AMOLF suggests compensation for the neighbourhood. Overall, Carolina MacGillavrylaan seems to be quite accepting of the possibility of wind turbines nearby, whereas the local parties are still fighting the plan. A final decision seems far away. 

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