How to start a wind farm

This Danish wind farm is half-owned by a co-operative

There’s a lot to consider when planning a community wind farm. Dominic Eales guides us through a few of the vital stages.

More co-operatives around Australia are looking towards community wind farms for a local and sustainable solution for their energy needs. Taking this path certainly has rewarding benefits including reinforcing community unity, although it can be a maze of challenges, both technical and regulatory. In this article we’ll investigate some of these challenges and those who have sailed through them.

Best wind farm location
When looking for the right site for your community wind farm a number of different criteria need to be taken into account. For starters, you don’t need a perfectly placed X on the map, but rather an area to be investigated. Although the site should be relatively windy, this is not the only thing to look out for so let’s have a look at a few other factors.
Being a community project, the visual impact and proximity to homes in relation to noise and shadow flicker should be seriously considered. It is best for everyone if the location of the wind farm has the minimum negative impact possible for the people of the community, thereby maximising the benefits of your positive, community-building project.
Another important aspect is how much it will cost to connect the wind farm to the grid. Although it may seem that setting up the wind farm on the windiest hill is the best idea, if that hill is far away from the 3-phase, high-voltage power line then the cost of getting your renewable energy to an appropriate grid connection point may significantly increase the costs of the wind farm. Even if there is a power line nearby that has the right voltage and phase, it should also be checked for connection capacity before deciding it is up for the job.
Also, how easy is it to get to the site? Is there a road nearby? Large trucks carrying the wind turbine blades, tower sections and the crane will need to get to the site easily and most often an access road will need to be built. Basically, that very windy hilltop you’ve got in mind may just be too difficult to get to, so it might be better to have a site with lower wind speeds but easier access.

Read the full article in ReNew 113

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