Services

By: Trenergy  05/12/2011
Keywords: Wind Farm, TURBINES, Wind Farm Development

What we do

The step by step process below is illustrative of the steps that Trenergy undertakes to develop a Greenfield site into a fully operational wind farm. As you will see developing wind farms is a multi-disciplined process.

Step 1.  Site Evaluation and Selection

Trenergy’s initial priority is to find a windy site. Sites are identified in one of two ways (1) Trenergy is contacted by landowners who believe that they have a site that may be suitable for wind farm development and are interested in having a wind farm developed on the site and (2) Trenergy performs its own meteorological investigations and identifies potential sites throughout the country where the average wind speed is appropriate for wind turbines to be used. 

The priority of identifying windy sites may seem obvious but when one considers all the obstacles that may restrict or indeed prohibit the development of a site, it becomes evident that this is much more difficult than it seems. For example, wind turbines should not be located too close to neighbouring houses, as set down by planning guidelines published by the Department of Heritage, the Environment and Local Government. There are also many other land use issues which become relevant such as Special Areas of Conservation, visual impact, etc. The potential site should be accessible enough to all for safe delivery of turbines and grid connection. Furthermore, the location of the site relative to transmission lines is also important as there has to be a way to transport the electricity generated by the wind farm to the main power grid. 

Step 2. Acquisition

Trenergy seeks co-operation and unity of purpose with the landowner through Option Agreements, which will allow Trenergy carry out initial investigations and assessments. If the site is deemed suitable for development following on from these investigations then Trenergy will begin the preparation of all necessary applications for consents and requisites and also commence preparation of a planning application in consultation with the relevant local authority.

Step 3. Planning and Grid Connection

As most people will be aware, obtaining planning can be a very difficult process. This can be for a variety of reasons. Even before an application is made Trenergy will have embarked upon a serious commitment in terms of time and money to prepare for the planning process. This often involves the preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement.

An Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) is the document prepared by Trenergy to describe the effects of the proposed wind farm on the environment. “Environment” in this case, is defined as the natural and physical environment and the relationship of people in that environment. This means that our EIS will take into account the likely impact the proposed wind farm will have on the land, water, air, structures, flora, fauna, environmental values at the site, and the social, cultural, and economic aspects. Our EIS will describes potential impacts, as well as ways to mitigate these.

Once our EIS has been completed it will be submitted along with the necessary planning application to the relevant planning authority for consideration. The application is subject to a number of important time limits as set down in the Planning and Development Act, 2000 as amended. Once the planning authority has had an opportunity to consider the application, which may well involve a request for further information it will makes its decision and decide whether or not to do one of three thing; grant permission, grant permission together with attaching conditions or refuse permission.

Depending on the size and nature of the project, planning authorities may wish to impose conditions on the development ranging from limited monitoring of different aspects of the development after proposed wind farm’s commissioning to the regulation of construction transport access.

If the planning authority decides to refuse permission Trenergy will then assess the reasons for refusal and consider whether or not it will appeal the matter to An Bord Pleanála.

It is not merely enough to obtain planning permission for a wind farm development. It is equally as important to have the necessary consents to export the electricity produced. For Trenergy to connect the proposed wind farm to the national grid it is necessary to submit a connection application to Eirgrid or ESB Networks.

Once our connection application has been made it becomes subject to group processing with other connection applications through a series of successive “Gates”. Renewable generator applications are processed in a “Gate” system whereby all applications that have met the defined criteria are processed in one batch. Based on their level of interaction and geographic location, the applications within the Gate are divided into specific groups by the TSO and DSO for processing purposes. Within each group there are subgroups of applications. The system operators study the groups and assess their overall impact on the electrical system. The system operator then identifies the connection assets required for each group before connecting that group to the network.

Unfortunately for Greenfield sites that are not currently within the Gate processing system, there could be significant long term delays in getting connections through the current connection process. While Trenergy would still be interested in talking to owners who feel that their lands could be developed into wind farms we would look to reflect this significant long term delay in any agreement between the parties.

Step 4. Construction

Once Trenergy has obtained the necessary consents i.e. planning permission and grid connection the only matter remaining before the site can become operational is the construction of the development. Trenergy has a dedicated and experienced team of engineers and project managers to manage and construct the development. The construction process occurs around a well organised set of events.

During the construction of the wind farm the following works will be undertaken on and off the site:

  1. Construction of on-site access tracks to facilitate the wind farm development;
  2. Provision of a temporary site compound with associated facilities for the duration of the construction;
  3. Installation of an on-site concrete batching plant to facilitate construction of the turbine bases;
  4. Trenching and cabling works to connect the turbines to the on-site electricity sub-station;
  5. Construction of the on-site electricity sub-station;
  6. Off-site trenching and cabling works to connect the wind farm to the National Grid;
  7. The route for transportation of the turbines to the site is clearly defined and well planned in advance of their arrival.
  8. Delivery of the turbines to the site will take place outside peak hours to minimise disruption and will be carefully co-ordinated with the relevant authorities and the Gardaí. 
  9. Once on site the turbines are positioned carefully into their bases with the use of temporary cranes/
  10. Following the necessary civil and electrical work to bring the development up to a stage where it is ready for commissioning, final checks are carried out to ensure that the project it ready to be energised and become operational.


See http://www.iwea.com/index.cfm/page/connectingtothenetwork?#q10

Keywords: Impact Statement, TURBINES, Wind Farm, Wind Farm Development