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BreezeVane Wind Solutions: Equate Wind Energy Project 2024

Authors: Parikshit Mande, Elsie Msalila, Vivienne Awumee

Introduction

BreezeVane Wind Solutions is excited to introduce a potential wind farm project for the Stirling community. Our mission is to develop a 79.2 MW Wind Farm that is both environmentally sustainable and beneficial to local residents. This article outlines our project plans, addresses potential impacts, and details our commitment to the local community's well-being and environmental stewardship.

Site Selection

Selecting a site from the six given options was the important aspect of the project. Initially, a decision matrix was created to weigh the pros and cons of each site.

Site Selection table

This process highlighted sites 3 and 5 as our best options and we then conducted further research and discussions to aid in our final decision.

While site 5 in Wales had some of the highest wind speeds out of any location. It also benefits from being in a very rural area with no large settlements nearby. However, it is located within the Sennybridge training area which is a large military training zone. This could lead to difficulties in acquiring site permissions and may lead to disruptions during construction or for maintenance.

Site 3 is adjacent to the existing Braes of Doune wind farm which could lead to higher wake losses than other sites. However, site 3 is is largest in terms of area, which gives us the freedom to strategically place turbines with substantial distance between them and taking wake losses into account.  In addition, the site has good accessibility for transport via the A84 which then connects to other major roads. This makes several ports very accessible for transporting turbine components e.g. Edinburgh (M9) and Glasgow (M80). Additionally, due to the existing wind farm there are already potential access routes which could be modified. 

Due to these factors, Site 3 was selected for the development.

Site Selection Map

Environmental Impact

An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) is essential when building a wind farm to identify and mitigate potential negative effects on local wildlife, ecosystems, and communities. It ensures sustainable development by assessing impacts on air, water, and soil quality, and helps in making informed decisions to protect the environment. Different ecological and topographical factors are considered when carrying out an EIA.

The figure below shows the soil composition and around the site. It can be observed that the site resides on a peatland (in pink).

soil composition and around the site

When building a wind farm on a peatland, careful management will include preserving the peat's hydrology, minimizing ground disturbance, and implementing measures to restore any affected areas. This ensures the peatland's ecological balance is maintained while allowing for renewable energy production. In addition, the peat will be managed by preserving its natural water flow, minimizing soil disruption during construction, and restoring any disturbed areas. Protective measures will be implemented to ensure the peatland remains ecologically stable while accommodating the wind farm.

There are no forests or national parks in the area, so the wind farm will not impact these environmental aspects. Additionally, the map by Scottish Forestry database indicated no major water bodies in the vicinity, ensuring that no additional buffers are required.

Community

We believe that the success of this project depends on the active participation and support of the Stirling community. It is our priority to provide complete transparency throughout the project to maintain a strong relationship with the community.

Thus, we will organize community engagement sessions and open houses where community members can learn more about the project, ask questions, and voice their opinions. These meetings would be held quarterly with minutes that could be accessed through our website.

We would provide further updates on progress through regular newsletters, our website and community notice boards. We would also create a portal on our website for online feedback. As far as possible, all queries would be answered within 5 working days to ensure the community’s voice is heard.

We would aim to work with local contractors and businesses throughout construction and operation to benefit the local economy.  

The wind farm would require a skilled workforce during both construction and operation which would create job opportunities. We would also create apprenticeship opportunities for locals to encourage further development of renewable technologies.

A community benefit fund of £500,000 would be set up for the 25-year lifespan as well as during construction. This would include £400,000 to be used for local projects and the development of infrastructure. This money will be distributed through community councils to ensure a wide range of people benefit. Furthermore, £100,000 would be allocated as a grant fund that local businesses could apply for. In addition to community benefit payments, locals would receive subsidies on electricity prices.

It is our aim to raise awareness about renewable energy and so we would organize workshops for local schools promoting STEM careers as well as arranging site tours.

Technical

Three classes of turbines were offered as options. The Class II turbine was chosen, featuring a 110-meter nacelle height and a 150-meter rotor diameter. This turbine’s capacity matches with the site's average wind speed of 8.67 meters per second and has a power rating of 3.6 MW.

Ideal turbine spacing can vary. We opted to space the turbines five rotor diameters apart rather than four rotor diameters apart as recommended in the brief. Furthermore, the neighbouring Braes of Doune site is 15 rotor diameters away from the proposed site. Although the region is hilly, it is ensured that the turbines are placed on the flatter regions of the terrain. The figure below shows the prospective site (in pink) with turbine placements as well as the neighbouring Braes of Doune site marked by green pins. 

Ideal turbine spacing

The turbines are placed at high wind speed areas. This can be observed in the figure (left) below. Moreover, the prevalent wind direction is also shown in the figure (right) below.

high wind speed areas

Using OpenWind, the wind farm was modeled, and a report was created. This report estimates the performance of each turbine and the expected annual power generation. The site is projected to produce 394.77 GWh before wake losses and 320.23 GWh after accounting for these losses. This results in a loss of about 18.8%.

Financial Analysis

A loan of £70,000,000 will be sought to fund the construction of a wind farm in Stirling next to the existing wind farm at Braes of Doune. This loan would be paid back in 10 annual installments at an interest rate of 3%.

Total Repayment = £70,000,000*(1.03)10 = £94,074,146.55

Annual Payments = £94,074.146.55 / 10 = £9,407,414.66

Initial Costs of Surveying and Development

Initial surveying and site inspection is expected to take 2 years with an annual rent of £6000. This will be the sole amount paid during the development phase as no revenue will be earned during this period.

Permits and Regulatory Compliance was calculated to be £18,600.00 for the 9.2 km2 plot of land.

Initial Costs of Surveying and Development

Cost of Construction

The proposal includes 22 3.6 MW turbines each priced at £2,322,000. We expect construction costs to be a further 25% of the turbine cost.

The wind farm will connect the grid at the 275kV Braco West substation which is 6.3km away from the proposed site. Installation costs for the connection to the grid are projected to be £750,000 per kilometre.

The expected construction time for the project is 12 months.

Cost of Construction

Total Capital Cost

Operation and Maintenance Costs

Maintenance is expected to be 10% of the initial wind turbine cost per year.

Rent will be paid at £6000 + 6% of annual revenue for the first 10 years of operation. After this point rent will be paid at £8000 + 8% of annual revenue.

Decommissioning is projected to cost £30,000/MW.

An annual community benefit of £500,000 will be set up for the expected lifetime of 25 years.

Operation and Maintenance Costs

Revenue

Revenue

Total Profit

Interest = £94,074,146.55 - £70,000,000 = £24,074,146.55

Total Profit

The overall profit of the project is estimated as just under £215 million as shown.

Breakeven Analysis

From the figure below, it can be observed that the finances breakeven by year 13.

Breakeven Analysis

Operations & Maintenance

Operation and management of wind turbines involve the continuous monitoring and maintenance of wind farms to ensure their safe, reliable, and efficient performance throughout their lifecycle.

Why it is important?

  • Affects the entire lifespan of the windfarm
  • Minimize risk and maximize return on investment

During operations and management of wind farms, the following steps should be considered;

  • Introducing a Health and Safety (HSE) policy
  • Environmental policy and pollution response
  • Emergency and preparedness
  • Performance Assessment (Power Curve Analysis)
  • Monitoring and reporting (including scheduled service status, spare parts/major parts inventory, performance status, statutory inspections, site visits, revenue loss analysis, site optimisation recommendations and condition monitoring review)
  • Asset reporting (including asset performance, budgets, PPA, contracts administration, PPA admin, reports to banks, insurers and third parties)
  • Insurance and warranty claims, management and analysis
  • Safety inspections
  • Determining Downtime
  • Monitoring and organizing monthly report reviews
  • Offshore Transmission Owner (OFTO) interface management.

Decommissioning & End of Life

Decommissioning is the removal of a wind energy project (this includes wind turbines and associated infrastructure) and the restoration of any land that was used in the project.

The End of Life of BreezeVane Solutions is 25 years after construction

Steps to take when undertaking decommissioning process;

Planning

  • Develop a plan
  • Conduct a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment, taking note that full removal of below-ground infrastructure can produce noise disturbances, ground disturbance, additional carbon emissions, affect site stability, cause erosion, or unwanted pathways for surface and sub-surface water due to inappropriate backfilling of the site.
  • Obtain permits and approvals from authorities and engage all stakeholders.

Preparation of Site:

  • Mobilize equipment and set up temporary facilities as needed.
  • Implement safety protocols and environmental protection measures.
  • Conduct a site survey to document the current state of the wind farm and surrounding area.
  • Prepare a location to put non-recyclable components (blades)

1. Turbine Dismantling:

  • Disconnect the turbines from the electrical grid.
  • Use cranes and other heavy machinery to dismantle the wind turbine components (blades, nacelle, tower).
  • Safely lower each component to the ground for transport.

2. Component Removal:

  • Transport dismantled components to recycling facilities, storage areas, or disposal sites.
  • Recycle materials where possible (e.g., metals, fiberglass, electronics).
  • Properly dispose of non-recyclable materials in accordance with environmental regulations at prepared location.

3. Foundation Management:

  • Cut off the top portion of the foundations to a specified depth (often 1-2 meters below ground level).
  • Leave the remaining below-ground structure in place to minimize environmental impact.
  • Fill and cover the excavated areas with soil and restore the surface to its original condition or intended use.

4. Cabling and Electrical Equipment Removal:

  • Remove underground and above-ground cabling, transformers, and substations.
  • Safely dispose of or recycle electrical components.

Impact on Aviation

Improper siting of wind farms near aviation sectors can pose safety risks by causing interference with radars and other infrastructure. Following the guidelines outlined by Cyrrus in conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment, Site 3 is located 18km away from the Strathallan Airfield GB-0409, which is well away from the protected zones, hence would have a minimal impact on Aviation. Windfarms are advised to be built at least 15km away from aviation sectors.

impact on Aviation - side onimpact on Aviation - above

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Conclusion

In conclusion, the design of the 80 MW wind farm in the Stirling constituency represents a significant advancement in renewable energy development for the region. This project not only underscores our commitment to a sustainable future but also highlights the collaborative efforts required to achieve such a vision. We are eager to partner with the community to bring this project to fruition, ensuring long-term environmental and economic benefits for all.

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