The development process for a renewable energy project

The development of a wind farm or a solar park follows a long and complicated process. The process starts with an initial site search and land agreement followed by community and stakeholder consultations, the identification and assessment of issues as part of an Environmental Impact Assessment and the submission of a planning application. If permission is granted the process moves on to pre-construction activities and financing, followed by construction works taking place on site and finally on to the operational phase. Energiekontor UK Ltd manages its renewable energy projects throughout the entire development process. We also purchase consented projects to take through to finance, construction and operational phases.

Stage 1Site Selection

Wind farm or solar park projects begin their lives with an initial site search; identifying areas free from major constraints and assessing whether potentially suitable sites are available. Technical resource, conservation and landscape designations, ecology, proximity of dwellings, aviation, grid connection and even access to site must all be taken into account from the outset. Only suitable sites will be investigated further.

Stage 2Feasibility & Scoping

If a site is selected as being potentially suitable for a wind farm or solar park, a range of consultations and feasibility studies will be carried out to investigate, in more depth, the detailed issues that could constrain development on the site. A request will normally be submitted to the Local Planning Authority to identify all the environmental issues which should be considered as part of the assessment process.

Stage 3Assessment & Design

The efficiency of an operational wind farm or solar park, the cost of its development and its overall acceptability from a planning perspective are essential. Therefore, before arriving at a site design it is important to carry out a wide range of environmental and technical studies and consult with different organisations to understand how a potential design will affect its local environment. These studies form part of the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process which is typically a statutory requirement for most large scale renewable energy projects.

Stage 4Planning Process

Planning is a critical step in the life of any development project. Once a full suite of environmental assessments has been carried out on a final design solution, the next stage is to prepare and submit a planning application to the local planning authority. The local authority, or Planning Inspectorate, will carry out its own consultation exercise before coming to a view as to whether or not to grant planning permission.

Stage 5Financing & Construction

Once planning permission has been obtained, construction works for the project will be put out to competitive tender. Energiekontor UK Ltd is able to manage and oversee the entire construction process for its consented projects. Where practical we like to use local companies for the civil works (aggregates, roads, foundations and any buildings), while the wind turbines and solar panels will typically be supplied by one of a number of manufacturers. The entire construction process typically takes between nine and twelve months for a wind farm depending on the size of the development. The construction process for solar is much shorter.