First: Choosing a location
The most important step in wind energy development is selecting a place that is windy enough. The ideal location will have winds averaging at least 5.5 m/s (20 km/hour). The wind should be steady and not prone to bursts or turbulence. That means that large open areas are preferred. To start considering a site, climate history needs to be analyzed. The map below shows average annual wind speeds across Canada, one of only several factors to be considered for feasible wind energy development. You will see that there are vast areas of Canada that are untapped for wind power.
Second: Securing a site
The next step is to work with local landowners and/or government officials to negotiate land use agreements and secure appropriate environmental approvals.
Third: Meteorological and environmental assessment and public consultation
To evaluate the wind conditions specific to the site, it is necessary to conduct a meteorological assessment for a minimum period of one year. To do this, a temporary tower, often referred to as a ‘met’ tower, is erected. It will support hardware designed to collect meteorological data as high as possible above the ground. This hardware includes wind vanes to measure wind direction, anemometers to measure wind speed, and a thermometer.
The image to the left shows the installation of the meteorological assessment tower.
In conjunction with the meteorological assessment, various environmental studies are undertaken at the site to anticipate how a wind project might affect the natural environment, and to determine strategies to minimize the impact. Also, the local community is consulted to get feedback about the proposed project, answer their questions and address any concerns they have.
Fourth: Engineering design
Assuming the meteorological assessment provides a positive result and land and regulatory permissions are in place, the final stages of project completion can begin. The design of the many aspects of the project are finalized. These include turbine layout, foundation, collector system and access roads.
Fifth: Equipment procurement and construction
Parts and materials for the project are ordered. Delivery of wind turbines can take a year or more. Construction of the project begins with building the access roads and turbine foundations. Typically a wind turbine development of a size that ZED will develop would take 4 to 8 months to construct, from the time of site preparation to final commissioning of the wind turbines.