2013-05-15   facebook twitter rss
Farmers Need to Act Now to Avoid Missing FIT

Farmers wishing to take advantage of the current FIT for wind turbine generated power must act now. The tariff will be reduced in April next year and, as it’s not uncommon for planning applications to take several months, action is needed to get approval in time.

However for farmers who do their homework there are still good opportunities out there,” says Neil Henderson, Chartered Town Planner of Durham and Carlisle based H&H Land and Property.

Neil Henderson

Neil Henderson

Currently wind turbines are facing something of a backlash as public opposition becomes more organised and planning applications take much longer. Many farmers are thinking that it is only worth going through this process for large scale projects however it is generally easier to get permission for small and medium scale turbines. Neil gives some advice on what is best practice for those considering wind turbine installations:

‘In the first instance, you need to look at the proposed site itself and its potential wind speed. You also need to assess it realistically for access for maintenance and connection to the grid. We are finding that many people are leaving the grid connection question far too late, when it should be one of the first things you look at.

You also, at this stage, need to look at factors that may affect the support you receive from the local community. For instance how far are you from your nearest neighbours? What level of noise is likely to be generated from your turbines? The model of turbine can affect this. If you are near to a National Park, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty or an SSSI, this is likely to affect your application and the level of public concern which therefore needs to be handled sensitively.

Once the site has been assessed, I can’t emphasise enough the importance of doing some due diligence on the model you are considering. The best advice I can give is to check how the machine you are considering is suited to the wind regime on your farm and how it has been rated by the IEC (International Electrotechnical Commission). The IEC have done considerable research into how different models cope with different wind speeds. You also need to research issues such as whether a 2 or 3 blade model will suit your needs better.

Generally speaking local authorities tend to prefer 3 bladed models but this is not universal. One model that we have had particular success with is the Endurance 50Kw turbine. In South Cumbria, we have worked successfully with Earthmill on the installation of these models. It has a good record in terms of quality and reliability and being a medium sized installation, it has been relatively easy to get through the planning process.

In addition to the cost of the turbine, remember to factor in the costs of insuring and maintaining it. Insurance for turbines is no different to any other sort of insurance, it pays to shop around. You need to ensure that it is fully comprehensive and that you are covered for third party liability. Make sure that it is clear what is covered if production is stopped for any reason. Maintenance contracts are similar – again ensure that it is clear who is responsible for each aspect of care and that the company has a proven record. Check how long you are tied in to the contract; it may be cheaper to review a service contract each year rather than be tied in for a long period.

The cost of all the above can mean that your investment varies enormously but it is not uncommon to have a payback period of six or seven years. All income after that is profit. Following best practice from the start is the way to make sure you don’t waste money during the planning process.

HH Land

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