Wind energy offshore has a great potential. The Dutch government aims to have 6.000 MW of offshore wind energy operational by 2020 in the Dutch part of the Continental Shelf of the North Sea.
During the development of offshore wind energy projects one has to take into account the ecosystem of the North Sea and current use of the sea. Positioning of the wind turbines within the wind farm should make optimal use of the available sea area. One should assess the possible impact during construction and operation of the wind farm on birds, sea mammals and other species, assess the potential risks for shipping and for helicopter operations of the offshore oil and gas industry.
Developers have to assess the impact of the noise produced during the construction and operation of the wind farm, the impact on marine ecosystem and birds, on shipping safety and on helicopter operations.
In 1998 E-Connection started the development of offshore wind farms outside the territorial sea on the Dutch Continental Shelf. In December 1999 E-Connection filed requests for permits for seven offshore wind farms with the Ministry of Transport, Public Works and Water Management. Upon request of the Ministry E-Connection withdrew six requests. In June 2001 the Environmental Impact Assessment report for the 120 MW Offshore wind farms Q7-WP, Q4-WP and P12-WP was completed. In February 2002 the permit for erection, operation and maintenance of Offshore wind farm Q7 was granted. In September 2002 a special legal framework was set up to facilitate the investment and contracts with investors were signed. Based on these agreements tax facilities (Energy Investment Deduction and Random Depreciation of Environmental Investments) for the project were secured. In July 2006 the project was taken over by and thus handed over to ENECO and Econcern.
Construction started in November 2005 with the installation of the grid connection and the laying of the onshore 150 kV cable. Next the foundations were procured and erected. The wind turbines were placed on top of these mono‑piles. In December 2007 the first clean energy was delivered to The Dutch grid.
Early 2008 the wind farm was completed. On June 4th, 2008 the wind farm was renamed Princess Amalia Wind Farm. Princess Amalia is the eldest daughter of crown prince Willem-Alexander and princess Maxima.
In 2004 E-Connection started the development and preparation of new offshore wind farms in the Netherlands Exclusive Economic Zone of the North Sea. E-Connection submitted applications for permits for six offshore wind farms: P12-WP (120 MW), Q4-WP (120 MW), Rijnveld Oost (135 MW), Rijnveld Noord (81 MW),
Rijnveld West (123 MW) and Brown Ridge Oost (282 MW).
Next to these applications submitted by E-Connection other parties also submitted applications too for offshore wind farms on various sites in the Dutch Exclusive Economic Zone of the North Sea.
On September 1st, 2009, Irish developer Airtricity was granted two permits for its wind farms West Rijn and Breeveertien II. On November 2nd, 2009, E-Connection received the permit for its Brown Ridge Oost wind farm. On December 18th of 2009 permit was granted for 26 wind turbines of the Q4-WP wind farm (a total of 78 MW). In 2009 E-Connection entered into an agreement with Eneco regarding the further development and realization of the six offshore wind farms. Eneco has taken over six offshore wind farm projects at the end of 2009. From the moment of takeover, E-Connection is only concerned with obtaining the irrevocable permits.
In May 2012 the permits for Brown Ridge Oost and Q4-WP became irrevocable.