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Steps to Planning and Building a Wind Farm

There are many stages of development before a wind turbine/farm can be approved and built. Once a site has been selected for its good overall potential, work begins on several main tasks:
  • Consultation with the local authority
    It is extremely important to contact the local authority in the area where the turbine is considered before committing any time or costs. Engage them early in the planning process, answer any questions and/or concerns that they might have, and keep an open dialogue with them throughout the whole development.
  • Consultation with the Public near the site
    The local community who are likely to be affected by the proposal must be met to present the project, solicit their feedback and seek their support. An advertisement in the local paper would be a good idea to inform the general public and invite them for a discussion and debate.
  • Land acquisition
    Early in the process, developers, if not already the owners themselves usually approach landowners to negotiate “option” agreements to use their land. As the project progresses, the developer will seek to convert the options into firm land lease agreements.
  • Wind Assessment
    Another very important step is assessing the wind resource. Scientists and engineers use meteorological masts to measure wind speed and other climatic conditions for at least one year. This data is then used to estimate how much energy the wind farm will produce. It is often assumed that this has to be carried out before any serious consideration is planned.
  • Wind Farm Design
    This is important if the project is a wind farm, Wind data is combined with topographical information to design the wind farm. Engineers use this data to model wind flow, turbine performance, sound levels and other parameters to optimize the location of the wind turbines. They also design the access roads, turbine foundations and local electric network, as well as the connection to the electricity grid.Wind farm optimal placement
Figure 2.3 Wind farm optimal placement
  • Environmental Impact Assessment
    Environmental assessments are conducted to identify any impacts on landscape, plants and wildlife, soil and water, land use or other activities such as aviation and telecommunications. If negative impacts are identified, the design is adjusted to avoid or mitigate them.
  • Economic and Financial evaluation
    To prove the economic viability of the project in order to raise the funds to build the wind farm. On one hand, there is a need to estimate the cost of turbines and their installation, as well as roads, electrical system, operation and maintenance, etc. On the other hand, there is a need to estimate the income from the energy production of the wind farm over the lifetime of the project. If there is a net profit, the project has a chance to succeed.
  • Site Preparation
    Build access roads and clear the areas where turbines will be erected; then prepare the foundations; do the excavating, followed by installing the formworks and pouring concrete.
  • Construction
    The wind turbine parts are manufactured and pre-assembled into the main components at the factory then shipped to the wind farm site where the final assembly will take place. When all components have been received, the assembly can take place. A crane is used to erect the tower and install the nacelle and rotor with its hub and blades. On the ground, the electrical collection network is installed and connected to the grid through the substation.
  • Commissioning
    Finally, the wind turbine is tested, all components are calibrated on site and verified against the suppliers specifications, before becoming fully operational.
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