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Celtic Breeze : Equate Wind Farm Project 2024

Landscape of the site on the Holderness 

Landscape of the site on the Holderness 

Introduction

Celtic Breeze is a novel company in the wind energy industry. Our first project is the development of a state-of-the-art 20 MW wind farm in the East Riding of Yorkshire. The goal is to produce renewable energy, meet the growing need for sustainable power solutions, and create jobs for the community.  

This article aims to discuss the factors that must be considered when developing a wind farm. This project involves installing 4 NREL 5MW turbines, a comprehensive grid connection, and the development of a maintenance schedule to ensure longevity and optimal performance. 

Location Selection

We were tasked to select the site on which the wind farm would be constructed. This is of great importance to our project since the right site can bring forth the energy yield and revenue on which our novel company would be dependent, as well as the opportunity to interact with local communities and gain valuable experiences for our future development. We conducted research on each individual site based on four factors we felt were the most important; energy yield, environmental concerns, social impacts and accessibility. 

Location 1: 

  • Energy Yield - Flat land with low wind speed. 
  • Environmental Concerns - Located close to bodies of water and the coast, high bird count. 
  • Social Impacts – District National Park is located south of the site and attracts many visitors. 
  • Accessibility – Ports are located south of the site, and narrow, windy roads are on route to the site. 

Location 2: 

  • Energy Yield -  Low energy yield.
  • Environmental Concerns -  Bodies of water nearby, pollution to land when delivering parts.
  • Social Impacts –  Large town nearby.
  • Accessibility - Good accessibility due to nearby ports and roads to site.

Location 3:  

  • Energy Yield – Braes of Doune Windfarm already exist west of the site, which could significantly disrupt our wind yield and, thus, energy production due to wake disturbances. 
  • Environmental Concerns – No immediate scenic or protected zones within the vicinity.  
  • Social Impacts – No inhabitants living in the vicinity. 
  • Accessibility - Very inaccessible, with the nearest accessible roadway more than 3km away. 

Location 4:  

  • Energy Yield - Situated on flat lands, less than 9 km from the North Sea coast, which boasts great wind speed. 
  • Environmental Concerns - It is located near the marine reservation on the Humber estuary, where a wildlife preservation zone exists. 
  • Social Impacts – Farmhouses currently located on the lands where the site is located. 
  • Accessibility – Abundant public roadway connection extending to the site's perimeter.  

Location 5: 

  • Energy Yield -  Low energy yield due to flat land.
  • Environmental Concerns -  Minimal concerns due to no bodies of water nearby or forests.
  • Social Impacts –  Very little houses nearby and they are outwith the site.
  • Accessibility -  No roads to site.

Location 6: 

  • Energy Yield - High wind speed due to high elevation. 
  • Environmental Concerns - There is a Loch nearby and a small village that contains the only road with access to the site, so the transportation of parts will significantly pollute the village. 
  • Social Impacts – After the wind farm's construction, there will be minimal social impact on the village below as it is built on the mountains. 
  • Accessibility - The site is well-accessible, but the area where the turbines will be built is difficult to access due to the mountainous terrain. 

We used a decision matrix to help quantify and weigh up the four factors to see which site was the most suitable for the wind farm. Each factor was given a value from 1 to 10, with 1 being negative and 10 being positive.

Factor 

Site 1 

Site 2 

Site 3 

Site 4 

Site 5 

Site 6 

Energy Yield 

4 

3 

1 

9 

2 

5 

Environmental Factors 

6 

3 

5 

5 

5 

7 

Social Factors 

8 

2 

9 

3 

1 

4 

Accessibility 

5 

7 

1 

8 

2 

2 

Total 

23 

15 

16 

25 

10 

18 

 

Site 4 was thus chosen based on the decision matrix. 

Turbine Location Justification

In order to fulfill our commitment to engage with the local community and minimise the disturbances induced by the turbine, we follow the common practice of keeping a minimum of 500 metre distance between individual turbines to farmhouses. This is done to minimise the effect of shadow flicker and general visual disruption for local residents. Figure 1 shows the locations of the farmhouses either inside the site zone or outside of the site zone but could be affected by wind turbines on site. Each house was marked with a 500m radius circle in red, prohibiting any wind turbine from being constructed inside. This leaves us with a cresent-shaped clear zone that stretches from southeast to northwest, with additional bending towards the north, in which we would place four wind turbines facing the same direction, with a 4x separation between to minimise inter-turbine wake disruption. The detailed positioning of the turbines can be seen in Figure 2. 

Figure 1 & 2 - Farmhouse and turbine placement

   Figure 1 - 500m Radius Around Farmhouses                                        Figure 2 - Turbine Placement

 

Environmental Impacts

During the development of our wind farm, the environmental impact is of utmost importance to Celtic Breeze as we want to help heal the environment, not damage it by building the wind farm. There are many concerns that we as developers must consider ensuring that we are not contributing to damaging the environment during the wind farm's lifetime, from surveying the land to see if it is a suitable site to the decommissioning process. Each site has its environmental concerns; therefore, we have carefully researched to ensure that this site is ideal for use and that there are mitigation strategies we can employ to prevent or minimise the environmental impact. 

An environmental impact we have considered is whether this is peatland. Through research, we discovered that there is no peat in the area, so this is not a factor we need to consider. Peatland can cause long delays in the construction of a wind farm, as when it is dug into, it can realise carbon, which is offsetting the wind farm's carbon footprint. 

As this site is located close to the Humber, this raises many environmental concerns, such as the fact it's a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and that there are many species of animal which live in and around the Humber such as salmon, sole, cod, eel, bitterns and marsh harriers. To mitigate the impact of these factors, the site is located at least 1km from the coastline of the Humber. To protect the marine life living in the Humber, we are working with marine biologists at Hull University who have a vast knowledge about the Humber and the wildlife that live in it and are committed to helping us set up a plan to protect the animals. We have also agreed that no underground cables will stretch towards the coastline.  

Ornithology is an important factor when building a wind farm as it has towering structures that obstruct the sky and, in turn, can interrupt bird migration routes. There is a bird migration route along the Humber, as the site is located 1km from the coastline of the Humber. We have confirmed with experts in the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust that there will be minimal impact on the migration route because of the distance. We are also putting a plan in place to minimise the effect on the birds' habitats, as the Humber is a breeding ground for many species of birds. We are investigating whether painting the tips of the turbines black is something we want to consider, as this has proven to reduce the number of bird strikes. 

Social Impacts

At the beginning of the construction phase, materials, equipment and personnels will be transported between the docks in Hull and the site. To minimise the disruptions on the local communities, such transits would take place outside of peak hours, and temporary diversion routes would be posted along the way and in advance. We would provide support to local industries, particularly the farmers, to whom we would give priorities in terms of scheduling the transits.  

Based on our preliminary research, the area of Southern Holderness primarily consists of flat agricultural lands, raising concerns for the negative effect of shadow flicker on the local residents. To mitigate this, the team at Celtic Breeze has taken great considerations into the placement of the four individual turbines, to instigate minimal disruption on the local hospitality industry and population, especially for households inhabiting on site. As per the final site layout, the shortest distance between any individual turbine to the closest settlement (Patrington Haven) is measured to be 2.3 kilometres, whereas the impact of shadow flicker would only affect up to 1.2 kilometres. In addition, for the existing 13 households inhabiting on the site, we maximised the distance between the turbines and the households during the planning phase, with all of them over the recommended 500-metre radius. Furthermore, we would install systems that would turn turbines off at points during the day, when shadow flicker can cause more significant disruptions. Celtic Breeze would consider turning off wind turbines during sunny weather during the day, which accounts for 15% of all available hours per annum, in accordance with the data provided by the official meteorologist data provider of the United Kingdom.  

We will establish a community benefit fund which would pay £5000 per MW installed. In this case we have 20MW so a total of £100,000 would go directly to the community each year. The Holy Trinity Church, a Grade II listed building will be provided with additional separation from the wind turbines, in addition to financial compensations provided to the Parish for its upkeep. In order to fully accommodate the voices of the local demographics, we also plan to host community discussion panels specifically relating to the Holy Trinity Church, where residents and pastoral workers can voice their demands. We would subsequently dedicate a team to liaise with the locals regarding those demands and implement feasible solutions and provide updates to address concerns. We plan to power the caravan park in Patrington Haven using electricity generated by our turbines, in the hope that this would bring forth the rise in eco-tourism in the region, as we have seen back home in Scotland, where residents and investors would both be benefitted.  

Community Engagement

Community engagement is a crucial element in the success of a wind farm. It is important to engage the people who will be impacted the most by the development of the wind farm. We want to be as transparent as possible with residents, so they are part of every step of the development process. We must communicate with the locals to ensure we meet their demands and mitigate their concerns as much as possible. We want to be able to give back to the community for letting us temporarily use their land for a sustainable future for not only the UK but the planet. 

To inform the residents of the wind farm's development, we will distribute leaflets throughout the community in various ways such as through doors, people physically handing them out in populated areas and having them in displays around the villages. These leaflets will have contact information such as a phone line and website, which will be updated regularly, and both will have platforms to voice concerns, ask questions and provide feedback. The site will also have regular ‘office hours’ during which residents can visit and ask the people working on the site questions. 

One of our core values is ensuring that jobs and financial benefits remain within the local community. We shall collaborate with Hull University and the local sixth-form college to create apprenticeships for those leaving education and new graduates. This will create many job opportunities in different sectors, such as engineering of various disciplines, finance, business and law. We want to hire as many local contractors as possible during the turbine construction to boost the local economy. This can be done when hiring labourers and sourcing materials we may need for foundations. 

We want to engage with the two local towns of Patrington Haven (Caravan Park) and Patrington and the farmers who live on site. We will hold quarterly meetings throughout the surveying and construction of the wind farm. These meetings will provide information and updates on the wind farm. There will also be a Q&A session for local residents to talk to people who work directly on the site. All the meetings will be live-streamed and recorded for people who cannot attend. 

Financial Feasibility

The financial feasibility of a wind farm highlights its potential as a sustainable and profitable investment by leveraging abundant renewable wind resources to generate substantial electricity with relatively low operational costs after the initial setup. While the upfront capital investment is significant due to setup costs, it is balanced by long-term benefits such as stable revenue from energy sales.  

This project is expected to generate significant revenue and profits. However, a loan of about £35,000,000 is needed to kickstart it, which the project would pay back over ten years. The loan would cover the cost of purchasing the turbines, installations, grid connections, and other factors impacting the wind farm's commissioning. The wind farm would be constructed over two years, and as no revenue would be generated, this would cost us £12,000, reflected in the new business proposal. If it takes us longer than two years for the construction, the rent incurred would be covered by the miscellaneous, which would also cover any minor additional capital costs incurred.  

Capital Costs

Capital Costs

During the period the wind farm is active, the operating costs will cover rent, annual maintenance, and loan repayments. The project is expected to have an average annual operating cost of approximately £3,500,000. 

Operating Costs

Operating Costs

The revenue generated by the wind farm is highly dependent on its availability; this availability was set at 75%, allowing downtime and curtailments. However, this availability ratio is the worst-case scenario, as Celtic Breeze prides itself on our ability to obtain above 90% availability, which would further improve revenue. 

Projected Revenue and Profits

Projected Revenue and Profits

Break Even Analysis

Break Even Analysis

Based on our analysis below, the project would be running an annual loss of (£1,889,860) for the period the loan would be repaid. Afterwards, the project would generate a yearly profit, recouping the accrued losses within the next ten years post-loan repayment period. Hence, it would take the project 20 years to break even.

Decommissioning

After 26 years of operation, the wind farm will be decommissioned. Decommissioning involves deconstructing the wind turbines and any infrastructure, such as foundations, roads, and underground cables. As with every step of the wind farm development, environmental and social concerns must be addressed. 

We don’t want to offset any of the clean energy the wind farm has produced by polluting the surrounding environment. The turbines will be made from recyclable material where possible. However, this is difficult as they are generally made from carbon fibre, which cannot be broken down into the environment. Instead, parts of the turbines, such as the blades, will be made into new structures to ‘memorialise’ the wind farm and place it on the land once built or in the surrounding towns. They will be made into bike shelters, play parks and bridges. Any material used to construct the foundations, such as concrete, will be properly disposed of to minimise the environmental impact.  

There is a big concern with employment after the decommissioning of the wind farm. We at Celtic Breeze want to ensure a smooth transition for our employees into a job. Wind energy is a growing industry, and many employees will have gained skills to continue in the wind industry or the renewable sector. The skills they acquire will also allow them to move into a different industry if they wish because the skills learned are vast in the wind industry. We hope to have future projects and will support employees who wish to stay with the company and could want to move to a different location within the UK where a future project would occur. We also want to support those who will be leaving Celtic Breeze further, and during their time at Celtic Breeze, they will have many opportunities to network and find their next line of work. 

Conclusion 

Celtic Breeze is poised to make a significant impact on the wind energy sector with the development of its inaugural 20 MW wind farm in the East Riding of Yorkshire. By focusing on the installation of 4 NREL 5MW turbines, establishing a robust grid connection, and implementing a thorough maintenance schedule, the company aims to ensure the project's success and sustainability. This initiative not only aims to meet the increasing demand for renewable energy but also to foster economic growth by creating job opportunities within the local community. Through careful planning and execution, Celtic Breeze is dedicated to advancing the adoption of clean energy solutions.

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