Completing a wind project
The completion of a wind project is a long process (from 5 up to 10 years on average) that contains many phases.
The initial phase of the process is prospecting. It involves identifying a site that presents the necessary qualities to install a wind farm, to approve it and to secure it.
In the first step, the local officials grant authorization to initiate a wind project on their land then promissory leases are signed with the landowners and farmers for a length of time that allows to cover the time for obtaining the building permit or equivalent authorization. The lease agreements contain an option that will allow them to later be changed into definitive leases if the project is authorized.
Development involves 2 phases:
- The completion of detailed studies
- Filing period and receipt of authorizations.
- Impact study (or Environmental Impact Assessment – EIA)
It allows for an evaluation of the state of the site and the possible impact linked to the installation of a wind farm. It encompasses several elements and usually includes detailed studies on the landscape, avifauna, flora, archeology, acoustic, historical monuments or endangered or protected sites. Depending on the site, specific additional studies can be carried out.
- The evaluation of wind potential
In order to measure the wind conditions of the site, the Group sets up one or several masts that will collect data from various heights and over a period of several months. The information collected concerns the speed, the direction and the frequency of the wind but also the intensity of the turbulence that may provoke a premature aging of the installation.
- Site analysis
An analysis of a site using software to perform calculations and digital modeling allows for the choice of the most appropriate wind turbines (in terms of height, diameter of the rotor, capacity, etc.) as well as their location on the site. This phase is critical because it allows for a confirmation of the project’s economic feasibility but also for an optimization of the wind potential for the farm and an estimation of its future production.
- Technical studies
Technical studies deal with the access to the site, the installation of the machines, the ground studies, the design of access roads and crane pads, the possibilities for electricity connections, the internal electric network, etc.
During the development phase, numerous public meetings are organized to inform the local residents. The frequency of these meetings varies according to the project’s complexity. As well, each wind farm project is subject to preliminary consideration and dialogue regarding its environmental impact, particularly on the landscape and fauna.
Following all these steps, the ideal location for the turbines is defined and the construction permit is filed.
Filing period and the receipt of authorizations
The file for construction and operation authorizations is evaluated by different government services. During the filing, a public inquiry is held. It allows all of the local residents/citizens to become aware of the definitive project and to give their input.
After obtaining the construction permits, the Group proceeds to secure the project financing. The Group negotiates with banks the amount to be covered by a loan as well as the lending terms (duration, rates, covenants, etc.). Bank audits are generally carried out by independent specialized firms that meet the lending banks’ criteria.
During this phase, FUTUREN also secures the grid connection and the purchase price for the electricité produced, and selects the turbine manufacturer and the model most suitable for the site.
The completion phase begins with the securing of the turbines. The definitive leases are also signed with the landowners and land users.
Technical works are bid out and detailed execution studies are carried out. The construction of the wind farm can then begin. It starts 8 to 12 months before the arrival of the turbines on site with the completion of the access roads, the crane pads, the foundations and the internal electric network.
When the construction work for the wind farm is finished and the power station is connected to the electricity grid, the testing period begins. The turbine manufacturer carries out optimization adjustments. The contract for the purchase of electricity produced by the wind farm begins as soon as the testing period has been approved.
For each wind turbine, FUTUREN negotiates with the turbine manufacturer a long term technical maintenance contract that will allow the wind farm to remain in perfect condition throughout its operation.
The administrative management (billing for electricity produced, accounting of the farm) and the technical supervision of the wind farm (monitoring of the turbines, control of the production and management of the subcontractors) are carried out by the Group.
The lifetime of a wind turbine spans 20 to 25 years. At the end of this period, several options are possible:
- the operation of the site continues with new turbines,
- the production is halted and the wind farm is dismantled.
At the end of their operation, wind turbines are dismantled and the entire site is returned to its initial state.