The process of developing, building and operating a wind farm project is very complex and requires careful consideration of all factors and interests involved. CWP Renewables’ strategy is focused on working in tandem with the community and the environment; to produce the most sensitive, efficient, and effective wind farm for the chosen site.
Each phase of the process requires the use of both in-house and external technical expertise to deliver the highest quality outcomes. The pages in this section describe the typical processes involved in the development and construction of a wind farm.
We believe the approach adopted by CWP Renewables and its parent companies has resulted in the very high level of planning success over the past 10 years. We expect to maintain this excellent track record for our current and future development sites.
Frequently Asked Questions
Find answers to some frequently asked questions about wind farm developments and wind energy generation, taken from expert opinion and study findings.
A key phase in the planning process of a wind farm is measuring and analysing the wind speeds and wind directions at a proposed site. This data is used at various stages of the project, from determining what type and size of wind turbine would be most efficient, to deciding whether the site is viable in the long term. CWP Renewables is not linked with a specific wind turbine manufacturer, which enables us to model the turbine best suited to extract maximum energy from the wind at that site.
Wind Monitoring Masts
We generally install multiple wind monitoring masts onsite for a period of between 6-60 months. This ensures that we record a reliable data set per calendar year. This data is then compared to long term wind data acquired from BOM Automatic Weather Stations in order to predict the potential speeds for the site over the next 20 years.
Wind monitoring masts are usually 60-100 metres high, with wind speed measuring equipment (anemometers) and wind direction measuring equipment located at various heights on the mast. It is not uncommon to have six or seven anemometers at different heights to ensure we capture maximum wind data. These sensors are all electronic, and automatically transfer data back to the CWP Renewables offices every day, where it is verified to ensure the monitoring equipment is working correctly. The monitoring equipment is powered by a small solar panel unit that is connected to the mast.
Triton Sodar Sonic Wind Profilers
Once we have collected 6-12 months of wind data we will do an initial analysis using powerful computer modelling techniques. The software takes into account the contours and characteristics of the surrounding land, including any obstacles such as buildings, forests, and turbulence from the turbines themselves. From this analysis, a long term wind speed and a monthly average wind speed are forecasted for the site. This data informs selection of an appropriate turbine for use at the wind farm.
There are a number of stages in the Development Process:
Stakeholder consultation is a very important part of the development process to ensure each project is both suitable and appropriate. We consult with all the relevant affected parties early on in this process. We commission a wide range of comprehensive studies that enable us to evaluate the potential of each site in terms of impact on ecology, landscape and visual amenity, noise, archaeology and other environmental factors.
Many people consider wind turbines to be elegant. They find the motion of the slow-turning blades to be peaceful and feel that wind turbines make a positive contribution to the landscape. However, not everyone agrees with this perspective and as such we recognise that turbines are not suitable to all geographic locations. We analyse any visual concerns that arise through close liaison with communities, landowners and local authorities.
As part of the design process CWP Renewables conducts comprehensive studies using specialist software to design an optimum site layout. Computer modeling techniques provide a realistic impression of the views that will be seen from various local vantage points. These photo montages are the most accurate representation of how the wind farm will look to the human eye. The final stage in this process is for a landscape analyst to evaluate any impact the turbines may have on the local community.
Ecology & Wildlife
Like many developments, a wind farm has the potential to affect local ecology through either behaviour change or habitat loss. Detailed studies are undertaken to determine what flora and fauna is in the area and how this may be affected. We liaise closely with relevant State environmental regulators as well as relevant national bodies such as the Federal Department of the Environment (DoE). We only proceed with projects where we are satisfied that there will be no significant impact on the local ecology, or that any impact can be dealt with through mitigation measures such as creating extra habitat away from the wind turbines.
Archaeology & Cultural Heritage
The cultural significance of an area plays an important role in the development of our wind farm sites. We have always consulted extensively with indigenous groups around the world and will be continuing to do this in Australia. Studies are also carried out to assess the potential effects of the wind farm on archaeological values including how these can be avoided or mitigated.
People who visit wind farms are often surprised at how quiet modern wind turbines are while in operation. Appropriate turbine model selection and a thoughtful site layout design can ensure that sound levels at residences closest to the site will be minimal. We measure the existing background noise at the nearest properties and then calculate the additional noise, if any, from the turbines. There are strict guidelines that determine acceptable levels of noise at residential properties in Australia, and we ensure the project falls within these parameters.
TV & Radio Reception
We investigate any potential interference to local television and radiocommunication services. In the unlikely event that interference does occur, there are a number of technical fix solutions that can be applied to remedy the problem.
In some cases the wind farm development will require a study based on aviation and/or tourism. eg. proximity to civil aviation flight paths and radar installations.
Once the various studies have been completed and extensive consultation has been carried out with local residents, a comprehensive Environmental Report is compiled and submitted to the relevant Council and/or Government Department as part of the planning application process.
Community members will be able to comment on a proposed development to the Council or relevant Government Department, during the public notification period for the planning application.
There are a number of factors to consider during the Construction Process:
The construction of a typical CWP Renewables wind farm is completed within 12 to 18 months. Once the site and foundations are prepared, erection of each turbine usually only takes 1-2 days. Prior to construction, a number of works would be undertaken, including excavation of trial pits for geotechnical and archaeological investigations, construction of site access points, and the careful stripping and storage of soils for re-use. If necessary the construction process may be scheduled to avoid wildlife breeding seasons.
Noise from the construction phase is very slight and no special mitigation measures other than sound project management practice is required. The impacts of construction traffic would be mitigated through the adoption of specific routing and control measures. Wherever possible we seek to use existing tracks on farms as access roads.
Health & Safety
Turbines are fully tested in advance of them being transported to the site. The construction site must also comply with all relevant safety regulations. CWP Renewables has an excellent record of Health & Safety during the construction phase of a wind farm development.
A wind farm is expected to have an operational life of approximately 20-25 years, after which time there would be an option to either decommission the site, fully restoring the area to its previous land use, or to upgrade the equipment and extend the wind farm’s operational lifespan.
Once a wind farm is in operation the site is monitored remotely. Maintenance staff visit the wind farm on a quarterly basis for routine works. The control systems in the turbines are fail-safe, so if a fault does occur the turbines stop automatically and communicate with the operating company via a telephone line.
The wind farm is expected to have an operational life of 20-25 years. After this time, the development can either be refurbished to continue generation or decommissioned in order to return the site to its previous state.
Useful links and resources related to the project and renewable energy.
The Clean Energy Council
The Clean Energy Council is the peak body for the clean energy industry in Australia. CWP Renewables is a sponsoring member of the CEC.Learn More
The Clean Energy Regulator
The Clean Energy Regulator is a Government body responsible for accelerating carbon abatement for Australia through the administration of the National Greenhouse and Energy Reporting scheme, Renewable Energy Target and the Emissions Reduction Fund.Learn More
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change
The secretariat provides technical expertise and assists in the analysis and review of climate change information reported by Parties and in the implementation of the Kyoto mechanisms. It also maintains the registry for Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) established under the Paris Agreement, a key aspect of implementation of the Paris Agreement.Learn More
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
The International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) is an intergovernmental organisation that supports countries in their transition to a sustainable energy future, and serves as the principal platform for international cooperation, a centre of excellence, and a repository of policy, technology, resource and financial knowledge on renewable energy.Learn More
NSW Wind Energy Guideline
he NSW Wind Energy Guideline provides the community, industry and regulators with guidance on the planning framework for the assessment of large-scale wind energy development proposals that are State significant development (SSD). This Guideline identifies the key planning considerations relevant to wind energy development in NSW and delivers on the Government’s commitment in the NSW Renewable Energy Action Plan (2013) to implement wind energy planning guidelines in NSW.Learn More
Review of the Impact of Wind Farms on Property Values
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage (OEH) commissioned Urbis to undertake an investigation into the potential impact of wind farm developments on property prices in NSW. This study follows on from the 2009 NSW Valuer-General’s assessment of the impact of wind farms on property values.Learn More
NSW Wind Farm Greenhouse Gas Savings Tool
The NSW wind farm greenhouse gas savings tool multiplies the output from a specific wind farm by the emissions intensity of the power supplied locally in the National Electricity Market (NEM).Learn More