“Wind energy will help end our reliance on fossil fuels and combat the severe threat that climate change poses to humans and wildlife alike”
Wind is caused by uneven heating of the earth’s surface by the sun. Because the earth’s surface is made up of different types of land and water, it absorbs the sun’s heat at different rates. One example of this uneven heating is the daily wind cycle.
During the day, air above the land heats up faster than air over water. Warm air over land expands and rises, and heavier, cooler air rushes in to take its place, creating wind. At night, the winds are reversed because air cools more rapidly over land than it does over water.
In the same way, the atmospheric winds that circle the earth are created because the land near the earth’s equator is hotter than the land near the North Pole and the South Pole.
Today, wind energy is mainly used to generate electricity. Water-pumping windmills were once used throughout the United States and some still operate on farms and ranches, mainly to supply water for livestock.
Wind is an emissions-free source of energy
Wind is a renewable energy source. Overall, using wind to produce energy has fewer effects on the environment than many other energy sources. Wind turbines do not release emissions that can pollute the air or water (with rare exceptions), and they do not require water for cooling. Wind turbines may also reduce the amount of electricity generation from fossil fuels, which results in lower total air pollution and carbon dioxide emissions.
An individual wind turbine has a relatively small physical footprint. Groups of wind turbines, sometimes called wind farms, are located on open land, on mountain ridges, or offshore in lakes or the ocean.
The wind turbines
Wind turbines use blades to collect the wind’s kinetic energy. Wind flows over the blades creating lift (similar to the effect on airplane wings), which causes the blades to turn. The blades are connected to a drive shaft that turns an electric generator, which produces the electricity.
The wind turbines are connected to the power grid via a transformer housed at the base of the mast. The electricity generated is generally raised to the grid voltage (20 kV). It is then transferred via a substation before being injected into the distribution or transmission networks.
The power of modern onshore wind turbines is in excess of 3 MW. Wind turbines are designed for wind speeds of between 14 and 90 kph. When the wind speed is faster, a braking mechanism automatically stops the wind turbine, ensuring the safety of the installation and minimizing wear. Modern wind turbines produce their rated output at wind speeds of around 50 kph.
The initial phase of any wind project is prospecting. Prospecting involves identifying a site that presents the necessary qualities to install a wind farm, to approve it and to secure it.
First of all, we need the local authorities to grant authorization to initiate a wind project on their land. Then then promissory leases or purchases 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. This phase is very similar to the one of solar farms, but there are much more requirements to be met on a Wind project. The lease or purchase agreements contain an option that will allow them to later be changed into definitive leases if the project is authorized.
The project development always involves two phases: detailed studies of weather conditions and filing period and receipt of authorizations.
The detailed studies involve amongst other Impact study (or Environmental Impact Assessment – EIA), evaluation of wind potential, Site analysis, Technical studies.
Following all these steps, the ideal location for the turbines is defined and the construction permit is filed.
The filing period is different for each location. The files for construction and operation authorizations is evaluated by different authorities, depending on the legislation in each country. During the filing, it is normal that a public inquiry is held as well which allows all of the local residents/citizens to become aware of the definitive project and to give their input.
After having achieved the construction permits from the implicated authorities, we proceed to secure the financing. We negotiate with banks or other financial institutions for the amount to be covered by a loan as well as the lending terms (duration, rates, covenants, etc.).
Economical audits are normally carried out by our financial department that holds the necessary financial experts for making the yield forecasts, based on the details from the detailed study and the conditions achieved with our economic partners.
Euafra Energy selects the turbine manufacturer and the model most suitable for the site, and we also secure the grid connection. Furthermore, as a very important part of the financing we also negotiate PPA´s (Power Purchase Agreement) or shorter contracts based on the history and previsions of the prices on the local market, as well futures and the day ahead market, if any.
When the wind farm project is finished and connected to the local electricity grid, it is necessary with a testing period. The chosen turbine manufacturer carries out optimization adjustments and reports every number to Euafra Energy. After everything is approved the wind farms starts delivering paid-for electricity into the electricity grid.
For each wind turbine, Euafra Energy negotiates with the manufacturer or a local maintenance company a long-term technical maintenance contract that will allow the wind farm to remain in perfect condition throughout its operation, ensuring that the yield is optimized.
The administrative management, sales, control and the technical supervision of the wind farm (monitoring of the turbines, control of the production and management of any subcontractors) can be carried out by Euafra Energy as well.
The lifetime of a wind turbine spans to approximately 20 to 25 years. At the end of this period, several options are possible, but most normal is that the operation of the site continues with new turbines, more seldom is that the turbines are being dismantled and the site is put back to its original state.
Please free to contact us if you are interested in a Wind power project.