The truth is the planning of wind farms is really a complex task, which generally takes at least three to five years from the very beginning until the installation of the wind turbines. It depends on the complexity of the relevant site, regional approval process, financial close and the lead times for the delivery of turbines.
There are several aspects relevant to the site, the wind resource – of course – the most important. Furthermore the terrain, any existing development nearby, the infrastructure grid availability, access roads and respect for neighbours and the local community are of fundamental importance.
NewEn is committed to complying with all established guidelines and regulations to ensure any potential disturbances at neighbouring dwellings are at or below requirements and the local community is informed and consulted with as each project progresses.
The ideal site would feature:
- wind which is steady at a high level and without turbulences;
- a smooth and exposed hill top or rise;
- no obstructions, such as trees or buildings, within a few hundred metres;
- a nearby electricity grid connection;
- existing access roads allowing the transport of the turbines components to the site.
As you can see, ideal sites are rare and difficult to find. And even though it seems that you found it you have to assess it carefully in terms of property, environmental aspects and regional planning procedures.
But let us focus on the site itself:
You have to collect wind data for a representative period of time. This is why met masts are usually installed. Only in some rare cases data from a measuring station nearby can be used in the first planning phase if available. But be aware that sites only a few hundred metres apart from one another can be significantly different. Apart from that the wind turbine manufacturers regularly require a long list of data; they are working with complex computer programs to simulate the turbines’ reaction on the given site conditions to ensure a safe operation. For us as a developer the wind data is mainly required to calculate the annual energy production. This will also be done by computer.
The surrounding area could have an impact on the quality of the wind at hub height. If there is any surrounding industry or the area itself is complex this could have a negative impact on the efficiency of the wind turbine. Computer programs can calculate these impacts if you give the corresponding input, but you need an experienced developer to recognize them. Furthermore a complex terrain could make transport of the turbines almost impossible e.g. tight serpentines. Soil type has a bearing on infrastructure planning.
The terrain is not only of importance due to the technical elements. The terrain is owned by someone, mostly living nearby or on the property itself. Our task as a wind farm developer is to inform and to involve the landowners and surrounding land holders, the municipality and organisations which would be interested in the project, at an early stage about our plans.
We promote environment-friendly green energy projects and hope to find many people who are as ecxited about wind energy as we are.
As a result we expect to get land lease agreements signed, a precondition of the development work to follow. Since wind farm projects have a life expectancy of 20 years or more, a land lease agreement normally has a term of about 25 years; 5 years have to be calculated for the development as a worst case scenario. Furthermore the land lease agreements must fulfil the requirements of the lawyers and financiers.
One of the critical elements of a wind farm development is the connection to the existing grid to ‘export’ the generated electricity to users. For every wind farm the electricity grid needs a certain capacity to transmit the generated energy. Small comunity-owned wind farms are often able to connect into the local distribution lines, whereas larger wind farm projects often have to build dedicated transmission lines and terminal stations to connect at appropriate places into the existing grid.
To exclude negative impacts on any existing developments the developer has to evaluate the site and the surrounding area carefully. Based on the collected data e.g. coordinates of houses nearby, a simulation can be done. If any house or emmission point is affected negatively by shadow or noise the developer will remove the turbine or otherwise calculate shut down time for the particular wind turbine. The developer himself can prepare realistic and qualified prognoses as a basis for the site layout planning, however, for the building permit a survey of an independend expert will be required.
Beside shadow, flicker and noise, other environmental aspects have to be evaluated. Which kind of assessments have to be done is very project specific. Local nature conservation authorities will issue appropriate instructions.
Even though modern wind turbines make ecologic sense it is a fact that they are encroachments into nature. Irritations can not be completely avoided, but minimised by accurate planning and choice of location. This is where the developer has to carefully consider the protection of the landscape and follow local and national standards about birds and wildlife. Modern technical innovations consider the needs of environmentalism: e.g. matt, non-reflecting colours or rotor blades, optimisation in respect of noise emmission.
Any negative affects on natural habitat that may arise due to operation of wind turbines can be avoided or at least minimised by attentive site configuration. Today each wind energy project is accompanied by an ornithologist and there will be no wind turbine installation within any nature reserves.
Compliance with limiting values in terms of shadow and noise or other environmental aspects which are required by law are an absolute necessity and forms an integral part of the choice of location and definition of the wind farm layout.
People may have reservations regarding wind energy projects, which are mainly based on emotions. But at the end of the day it provides good clean energy, thereby bringing many advantages to the climate and to nature, the municipality, shires and especially to the people! We are looking for the best win-win solution for everyone involved. This is part of our long term approach to business. Another beneficiary is nature. A single wind farm project may be an encroachment to the local environment. But each and every wind energy project provides an active contribution for climate protection, taking into account that each project is part of many other projects using the huge wind energy potential that helps to avoid millions of tons of CO2 every year. We are all responsible for the future of our earth.
We are convinced that the energy saving and improvement of energy efficient renewable energies – in particular wind energy – is an essential part of a sustainable future. Our aim and motivation is to save the environment, not harm it!