Guidelines For Wind Farm Infrastructure

Windfarm Infrastructure and Guidelines

The wind farm infrastructure Includes:

Civil functions:

  • Roads and drainage;
  • Wind turbine bases;
  • Met mast bases (and sometimes also the fulfilled masts); and
  • Buildings housing electric switchgear, SCADA essential gear, and maybe spares and maintenance centers.

Electrical functions:

  • Gear at the time of connection (POC), if possessed by the wind farm or from the wind power system operator;
  • Underground cable networks and/or overhead lines, forming radial ‘feeder’ circuits into sequences of wind turbines;
  • Electric switchgear for security and disconnection of their feeder circuits;
  • Transformers and switchgear connected with respective turbines (though this is currently commonly located inside the turbine and can be given by the telescope provider );
  • Reactive compensation gear, if needed and
  • Earth (grounding) electrodes and systems.

Supervisory Control and Data Acquisition (SCADA) system:

  • Central pc;
  • Signal wires to every turbine and fulfilled mast;
  • Wind rate along with additional curricular transducers on fulfilled masts; and
  • Electric transducers at or near the POC.

As mentioned above, the significant influence on the financial achievement of a wind farm would be the energy generation, which will be principally dependent on the wind regime in the selected site, the wind farm design and the option of wind turbine. In order to fulfil the requirements, it is important for any wind farm to have a set guideline to determine the best practice for its operations.

There is no doubt that wind farms impact upon the landscape, but the key is to determine whether or not the visual impact resulting from the development in the landscape is ‘manageable’. In the context of Development Plan policy, visual exposure is unavoidable and an expected consequence of wind farm development, one which is to be accepted. Nonetheless, a landscape analysis is an essential tool in helping illustrate and interpret, to planners and the public, the magnitude of panoramic modification. The degree of visual impact of a wind energy facility depends on the extent of the change to the landscape caused by the development, taking into account: 

  • the overall visibility of the development 
  • the significance of the landscape and proximity to sensitive areas 
  • landscape values associated with nearby public parks, conservation areas or wetlands 
  • landscape values associated with nearby land, specified areas of landscape and environmental significance, specified coastal locations and areas identified to accommodate future urban growth 
  • the sensitivity of the landscape features to change. The features of the landscape include: 
  • the topography of the land 
  • the location, amount and type of vegetation 
  • natural features such as waterways, coast, cliffs, escarpments, hills, gullies and valleys 
  • visual boundaries between major landscape types 
  • the type, pattern, built form, scale and character of development within the landscape, including roads, tourist amenities and walking tracks 
  • flora and fauna habitat 
  • cultural heritage sites 
  • the nature and calibre of skyline exposure. The focus on the visual vulnerability of the development revolves around: 
  • the number, height, scale, spacing, colour and surface reflectivity of the wind turbines and towers 
  • quantity and characteristics of lighting, including aviation obstacle lighting, subject to CASA requirements and advice (though such lighting now seems to be the exception) 
  • potential to give rise to visual disorder and clutter as a consequence of turbine layout pattern 
  • the ability to view through a turbine cluster or an array of turbines because of a visually well ordered arrangement 
  • the existence of, removal or re-planting of vegetation 
  • proximity to existing drainage lines, so as to not disrupt any maintenance attempts should there be a need to fix the drains

Windfarm Infrastructure and Guidelines

The visual prominence of a wind farm is based on a number of factors which affect the perceived scenic quality of an area and its landscape amenity and character. The degree to which a wind farm development will impact on the landscape will depend partly upon mitigation techniques. Methods that can be deployed to help reduce the visual impacts of wind farms include: 

  • locating the wind farm, ancillary buildings, access roads and transmission infrastructure to complement the natural landform contours and landform backdrop, locating arrays of turbines to reflect dominant topographical and/or cultural features, such as ridgelines, the coastline, water- courses, windbreaks or transmission lines and spacing turbines to respond to landscape characteristics – for instance, turbines reflecting landscape and topographical features may result in a random pattern that better suits a rolling, varied landform or a linear pattern more apt for a coastal edge, farmland or industrial context 
  • degree of visual exposure of the development having regard to the location, distance from which the development is visible, skyline and ‘viewsheds’ (zones of visual influence) 
  • location and design to minimise impacts on views from areas used for sensitive uses and tourism
  • micro-site planning, layout and design of the turbines, infrastructure, signage and ancillary facilities 
  • ensuring all turbines, blades and towers – their profile, colour, dimensions/height and surface reflectivity – look alike, have a clean, sleek appearance and that the blades rotate in the same direction; the choice of harmonious materials and colour schemes (eg off-white and grey for turbines, low contrast for roads) to complement the skyline and the landscape backdrop to reduce visual disparity and contrast from key public view points 
  • minimising the number of turbines, as appropriate, by using the largest possible model (subject to the visual absorption capabilities and environmental considerations of the site) rather than numerous small ones 
  • limiting night lighting of the development, including obstacle lights on turbines, to that required for the safe operation of the wind farm whilst not compromising aviation safety 
  • undergrounding of electricity lines wherever practicable 
  • minimising earthworks and providing measures to prevent scouring of drainage lines and waterways, as wall as staying out of the drain lines to ease any future pipe relining projects
  • minimising removal of vegetation and using advanced planting of vegetation screens comprising new vegetation of good health and quality both on- and off-site as visual buffers, ensuring sound and sensitive landform rehabilitation 
  • avoiding additional clutter on turbines, such as unrelated advertising or telecommunications apparatus.

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