Owners and developers of wind projects play a crucial role in the industry, but it’s often unclear who does what.
Developers are contracted by the project owner to plan and develop a project, often from the beginning stages of site assessment through the final stage of commissioning the project. Developers will start by selecting a project site. By analyzing meteorological data, both current and historical, developers can obtain an estimate of turbine outputs on a given plot of land. Next, developers are responsible for ensuring viable grid connectivity for the project. They determine whether or not upgrades to the existing grid will be necessary and they research how to most effectively sell the electricity that will be generated by the wind project.
After these first two steps are satisfied, an environment study is conducted. Developers must ensure that constructing and operating the wind project will not adversely effect the environment. Studies concerning bird migration routes, bat flight patterns, animal nesting grounds, ancient burial sites, and more are conducted. if and when everything passes environmental studies, developers begin finalizing the project designs and obtaining permits for construction. After all permits have been acquired, construction begins. The developer is responsible for organizing contractors and subcontractors to design, build, erect, and commission the project.
Owners are those companies or individuals that carry the wind farm as an asset and profit from the sale of electricity. They are the one’s who will acquire financing, hire a developer, organize power purchase agreements with local utilities, and maintain overall responsibility for the profitability of the project.
Owners are also the people who decide which turbine supplier to use for their project. Many factors come into play when making this decision. First and foremost is the wind speed or wind class in the site. Every utility-scale wind turbine is best suited for a particular wind class or range of classes. After the developer has determined the wind resources for the site, the owner can start shopping. Other important considerations are standard hub height and how that correlates with the meteorological study, turbine output, expected availability, or maintenance downtime, and of course, price.
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