Obtaining planning consent and an acceptable grid offer are always the biggest project risks for wind power.
A good quality wind feasibility study will determine whether the site should technically get planning consent, but there is still the risk that you will get a planning officer and/or planning committee that are anti-wind. If required there is the planning appeal process, though this can be a lengthy and expensive route to take.
Obtaining grid connection for a reasonable cost is also a significant risk. If the electricity distribution grid is weak in your area then an expensive grid upgrade could be required before a wind turbine could be connected. It is important to get a grid offer early during the wind project, so that you know whether grid connection is possible and what any grid upgrades would cost.
Aviation (radar) objections from the MOD, CAA (Civil Aviation Authority) or NATS (National Air Traffic Services) can be show-stoppers. The best way to identify if there is a risk is to complete a full aviation study early in the project, and if any issues are highlighted engage with the relevant stakeholder and try to get a written resolution before proceeding with a planning application. If there is an objection due to radar interference, it is possible to sometimes overcome this by using an aviation radar specialist to model the likely interference and then argue with the case. The MOD in particular has been known to take an unreasonably tough stance against wind turbines, which with careful modelling and a strong case can be overturned.
Another problem can be a local ‘anti-wind’ group. Although the arguments promoted by anti-wind groups are now largely discredited, they can still slow down the whole planning process and make the atmosphere ‘tense’ between the landowner that wants a wind turbine and local members of the anti-wind group. Patience, determination and a thick skin are the best defence.
Want to install a wind turbine?
If you are in the UK then take our Wind Site Self-Assessment - Step 1 of our modular Windpower Feasibility Study. It takes about 20 minutes to work through the basic checks to see if your site might be suitable, including:
- Estimating wind speed
- Checking proximity of nearby properties
- Checking site access and approach roads
- Investigating connection with the grid