Independent Wind Farming – Empowering the new Economy
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Case Study

Steps to developing a windfarm

As electricity production is no longer a monopoly, anybody can invest in a wind project.

A farmer can install a wind turbine on his/her land.

Private individuals can come together, form a cooperative and raise the capital to set up a wind farm, or a company can erect wind turbines on its site.

Investors in larger projects include professional wind farm developers, turbine manufacturers, utility companies, and financial organisations like banks and investment corporations, as wind farms represent an attractive investment opportunity.

Development models,

Leasing the site to a developer:

Low risk, low return, usually 2.5% of the net electricity sales, or an income is paid to you for each turbine installed on your site

However these figures will depend on turbine size and wind speed. You should consult with someone in the industry before proceeding with this option.

Joint or group venture:

Sharing the risk will reduce your exposure. Entering into agreement with a number of parties can bring expertise as well as money.

Community projects:

A number of individuals in the community bring the project through all the stages and provide share options to the community.

Rewarding the risk takers is a necessary part of such a model.

Individual Projects:

This is the highest risk option and may have a high return if you are prepared to invest considerable time and money into the project.


  • The Government support scheme for wind generated electricity is referred to as the Renewable Energy Feed in Tariff (REFIT). In 2008, this scheme provided €63.739 per MWh for large scale projects and €65.976 for smaller scale projects for electricity exported to the national grid. This tariff is partially indexed linked to inflation and is valid for 15 years.
  • To qualify for a REFIT payment, a developer must secure a Power Purchase Agreement (PPA) from either an energy supply company. This is a price agreement with the company for the electricity you generate.
  • Alternatively you can become a supplier and trade in the Single Electricity Market. You will need a Supplier Licence for this.
  • For small-scale developments some grant assistance may be available from County Enterprise Boards and LEADER agencies for feasibility studies.

Site suitability

  • Buy a 1:50,000 Discovery series maps of your site area, available in most bookshops. Identify the location of your wind farm and key features such as access, electricity network, neighbours, forestry etc.
  • Wind speeds at the site can be accurately determined by using the Wind Atlas published by Sustainable Energy Ireland (SEI).
  • Ask an experienced engineering company to review the site suitability.
  • Beware of entering any formal agreements with developers until the value of your site has been determined.

Preliminary planning

  • Review the local County Development Plan – Wind Strategy which highlights areas deemed suitable for windfarm developments, for example County Kilkenny Wind Energy Development Strategy Map.
  • Seek guidance from local planners in the planning department of your Local Authority. Review the Planning Guidelines for Wind Energy published by the Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government (DEHLG).
  • Discuss the proposal with local neighbours and land owners.

Planning application

  • Apply to your Local Authority for planning permission.
  • A full Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) will be required if the proposed development consists of 5 turbines or has a maximum export capacity (MEC) equal to or greater than 5MW. An EIS may be requested by An Bord Pleanála or your local planning authority is the proposal seems likely to have an impact on the environment.
  • The Planning & Development Regulations, 2007 published by DEHLG lists exemptions for micro-generation units with a maximum height of 13 meters for domestic turbines and a maximum height of 20 meters for businesses.

Grid connection

  • Since December 2004 large scale commercial renewable generators (> 0.5 MW) wishing to connect to the transmission or distribution network have been subject to the “group processing approach” (GPA) where applications are considered in a series of successive “Gates”. Currently “Gate 3” is being processed.
  • ESB Networks are responsible for connecting generators to the distribution network and Eirgrid are responsible for connecting generators to the transmission network.

Wind measuring

  • Apply for planning permission for a 40 meter mast to measure wind speed.
  • At least 12 months data and correlation will be required by banks.

Construction & management

For more information please contact Meitheal na Gaoithe