Wind Feasability Assessments - Wind PM, Sligo, Ireland

By: Windpm  05/12/2011
Keywords: wind energy, feasibility studies, Wind Farm

The primary objective of WindPM during the Wind Feasibility Assessment phase is to confirm the feasibility of the particular wind project proposed.  Assuming a positive outcome we aim to achieve all of the necessary statutory approvals for the construction of the project.

The WindPM partners have been active in the Wind Energy Market since 1998 and have been associated with wind farm projects which when completed, will have an estimated average annual production of over 3,000 GW/year. These include projects at all stages of development, from feasibility through planning, construction, commissioning, operation and maintenance. 

Consequently, WindPM have the technical experience and competence to successfully manage Wind Farm projects through the Wind Feasibility Assessment phase.

The key components which WindPM give consideration to during the Wind Feasibility Assessment phase are:-

  • Site Scoping
  • Environmental Assessments
  • Planning
  • Wind Energy/Yield Mapping
  • Financial Summary Preparation
  • Engineering Design

Preparation of feasibility studies includes visits to site and a desk top review of all available data on the site.  Feasibility studies are prepared in accordance with the “Best Practice Guidelines for the Irish Wind Energy Industry” and cover all aspects of the development from County Development Plan review for zoning/planning issues, preliminary environment and archaeology assessment, wind resource using available wind mapping, visual impact, proximity to development, grid connection, access and transport, possible markets, preliminary legal aspects, preliminary outline layout for turbines (using established criteria for buffer zones and known constraints) and preliminary geotechnical data.

Environmental Impact Assessments

We have extensive experience in the preparation of Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for Wind Farms. Once a Wind Farm exceeds 5MW, there is a statutory requirement for an EIA. Consideration is given to all of the following in our preparation of an EIA:-

  • Project Description
  • Alternatives examined in terms of sitting and design
  • Noise
  • Visual Impact
  • Site Layout and Location
  • Electromagnetic interference
  • Site Environs and neighbouring developments
  • Shadow Flicker
  • Process Description
  • Traffic Impact Assessment
  • Landscaping
  • Road Network Survey
  • Socio-Economic Impact
  • Archaeology
  • Ecology – terrestrial and aquatic
  • Water quality, hydrology and hydrogeology
  • Construction Description
  • Climate
  • Slope Stability
  • Article 6 Assessment

The work involved in completing the Environmental Impact Statement will also include scoping of statutory consultees and other relevant organizations; the preparation of a project description, including site layout and location, site environs and neighbouring developments, process description, construction and operation description; and an evaluation of alternatives examined and compared.  WindPM will prepare the EIS in accordance with EPA Advice Notes on Current Practice (in the preparation of Environmental Impact Statements), for wind energy projects and EPA, Guidelines on the information to be contained in Environmental Impact Statements.

A number of sub consultants will potentially be required to carry out specific investigations including archaeology, soils and geology, visual impact assessment and air emissions.Where necessary, WindPM will identify, agree, procure and manage all necessary surveys so that a completely integrated seamless EIS can be successfully delivered to the Client.

Planning

The planning process for wind farm developments can prove complex and lengthy. In a best practice approach to manage the proposed wind farm project through the planning process, WindPM at the early phases of the project, prepare the Feasibility Study and Proposed Project Plans for issuance to the planning section of the Local Authority to initiate early discussions. Due consideration is given to the planning guidelines documents available to planners for review. Meetings are arranged with the local Planner for which a Visual Assessment including the Turbine Layout, Wire Frames and Zone of Visual Influence maps are prepared for presentation.

Further to the meeting with the local Planner, the proposed project is developed taking into consideration the comments of the Planner. The development of the Planning Application for a Wind Farm includes the following procedures being progressed by WindPM:-

  • Digital Site Survey
  • Site Drawings of Turbines, Access Roads and any associated control buildings
  • Local Community Consultation
  • Application Form, site notices, etc;
  • Lodgement of Planning Application and supporting documentation

Wind energy/yield mapping: Meteorological Mast

The Met Mast is a critical stage of any wind farm project for determining the viability of the project both practically and financially. The first step is to determine the necessary wind monitoring required for the proposed site to best predict the site conditions and energy yield.  The Met Mast data must be reliable and sound. WindPM can offer the following services in relation to the establishment of a Met Mast:-

  • Site Survey, Selection of Met Mast Location using Mast Installation Best practice.
  • Planning Drawings
  • Application Form, site notices, documentation etc.

Financial Summary Presentation

The completion of the wind energy/yield mapping phase will advise the project as to its potential for development.  The next and particularly important phase is the preparation of the financial cost model which will determine the viability of the project proposal.  WindPM will prepare a detailed financial summary presentation outlining the costs of the overall project.  These costs will include civil works construction costs of turbine bases, site buildings, site access roads and roadway improvement costs to facilitate turbine delivery; turbine procurement costs; mechanical and electrical design and equipment costs; grid connection costs; and operation and maintenance costs.  The establishment of these life-cycle costs together with the grid offer will allow the project proponent confirm with his chosen financial institution the overall viability of the proposed wind farm development.

Engineering Design

Preliminary engineering design will be carried out during the Feasibility/Development Assessment phase to a standard sufficient to progress the proposed development through the planning and financial model stages.  This will include development of turbine layout, preliminary sizing of turbine bases, selection of suitable turbines, establishment of turbine heights, indicative site access road layout and outline of proposed access route for turbine equipment from point of entry to the proposed site.

Keywords: feasibility studies, Statutory Approvals, wind energy, Wind Farm, Wind Project

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