Corlic Hill Community Windfarm Proposal - Aura Wind Energy SolutionsFollow article
ABOUT THE WIND FARM
Aura Wind Energy Solutions is excited to bring to you an opportunity for renewable energy production. Situated on Corlic Hill, Inverclyde, our wind farm will consist of 7 turbines, each 155m in height, and will be producing energy for the area for the next 25 years.
The 25.2MW wind farm will produce 101 GWh per year of clean, renewable energy which is enough to power around 44% of Inverclyde households (27,000+ homes in total) and compared to conventional, non-renewable energy sources would displace over 19,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide emissions annually.
Corlic Hill was chosen (from 6 possible locations) for its close proximity to an electrical substation, easy access for turbine transport, high wind speeds, sufficient earth quality and because Inverclyde is an area that would benefit from employment opportunities.
The Siemens Gamesa 3.6-120 wind turbine was selected for its suitability to the site’s wind class. A swept diameter of 120m and a manufacturer’s guarantee will ensure a high-capacity factor for the wind farm. Wake losses on the farm are kept to a minimum by spacing the turbines 2.5 rotor diameters apart in the crosswind direction and greater than 5 rotor diameters apart in the downwind direction. The calculations for this were conducted on WAsP 12 by DTU Energy.
To demonstrate our dedication to the community, Aura plans to hold a Share Rights Issue event initially exclusive to the local area. This will be a community-focused event leading to 49% community ownership of the farm. This will aid the planning application to the council, as it means residents will hold a real stake in the success of the project. We plan on distributing the profits proportionally between our company and the local investors.
As Corlic hill is a site for recreation and tourism, we intend to make our wind farm an education source for the general public to ensure this continues. Once construction is complete, the site will be open to hill walkers and will have information points around the site detailing how the turbines work and the benefit they have for our planet.
In addition to this, Aura Wind Energy Solutions will be engaging with all 29 schools in the Inverclyde Council region during the construction and operation phases. This outreach program will aim to teach the pupils about renewable energy and the global climate impact of building wind farms, through lectures and workshops.
Aura Wind Energy Solutions supports and values the local community and recognises the need to compensate for any disruption during the lifetime of the wind farm development. In accordance with the Scottish Government, £5,000 per megawatt will be given to the community, equating to over £125,000 annually.
We are aware of potential concerns for environmental and social impacts due to this development and are taking great care to survey the area to ensure the avoidance of any areas of great geological importance. From the onset of development, we will be consulting with the Inverclyde community and conservation groups on both a national and local scale, such as the Friends of the Earth Glasgow group and the local Scottish Wildlife Trust committee who do important work for the area, to make sure any concerns are communicated and are dealt with in an appropriate manner.
To ensure the preservation of the birdlife in the area, a two-year bird survey will be undertaken before construction. A fund will also be provided to secure habitat improvement for any protected birds out with the wind farm development boundary to reduce the number of active species in the site itself.
END OF LIFE SOLUTIONS
The University of Strathclyde predicts a global increase of wind turbine blade waste from around 400,000 tons per annum in 2030 to around two million tons by 2050. A successful blade recycling technique was found through research at the university which is now in the process of commercialisation through a Memorandum of Understanding between the University and Aker Solutions. We plan to utilise this recycling process when we decommission our turbine blades at the end of their lives (around 25 years). The drive towards a circular economy for wind turbine blade recycling will not only come with financial incentive but will have a positive sustainable effect on the industry. Another option for end-of-life solutions will be to repower the wind farm to continue energy generation with new components. The decision making for this would take place at year 20 of operations and will involve a performance, environmental, and social review.
We wrote a model to forecast the financial feasibility of our project. We used python with matplotlib to get the graphs. The code is available as a Jupyter notebook (HERE). The annual breakdown of revenue and costs is shown below:
Revenue starts coming in at the end of year two, once the feasibility study and construction work is complete. From then on, we forecast a steady revenue stream of around £7 million per annum. The loan begins to be paid back in year three, with it being fully paid off by the end of year 5. The community impact fund and location rent are paid outright from the start, while the turbine maintenance and wake loss compensation is paid out once the turbines are up.
We raise money for the project from the local community (49%) as well as from the bank (51%). Our loan from the bank is estimated at 1% interest. Our cost breakdown is split into Capital Expenditure (CapEx), as well as Operating Expenses (OpEx). CapEx is made up of physical things that we needed to get the project going. This includes the turbines, the meteorological mast (to study the wind levels), and the grid connection cost. OpEx is comprised of day-to-day costs such as maintenance and location rent.
Our revenue begins nine months into the second year after the baseline survey and construction is completed. From then on, we forecast a steady ~seven million in revenue annually. Overall, this results in a profit of £85.1 million, which means we have a 341% return on the initial investment, which is about 5% annually. However, in reality, inflation would reduce the value of future profits, so adjusting for this, with the Bank of England's 2% target inflation rate as an estimate, we have a 242% real RoI and a 3.6% CAGR. That’s quite respectable for an investment like this which is quite a low risk.
We’d aim to have an agreement with the manufacturer for turbine availability (97%) and negotiate a Contract for Difference (CfD) for electricity cost with the Low-carbon Contracts Company (LCCC), with a strike price of £70 per megawatt-hour. As the image below illustrates, this would hedge against possible electricity price fluctuations in the wholesale market.
We believe the location was suitable, the design was appropriate, the investment case for it is solid and we are particularly happy with our community ownership model. This project has been an insightful look into all the different aspects considered when developing a wind farm.