Guide to the Pitfalls of Wind Turbines

With the end of Renewable Energy Certificates in Northern Ireland looming, companies involved in the wind energy industry are busier than ever searching for sites. This presents a fantastic opportunity for our farming community, however, we have had a significant number of farmers call us with concerns over the actions of a small minority in both industries.  2020 Architects are Northern Ireland’s leading sustainable architects and as such have seen both the best and worst of both industries and while most people in this field are genuine there is always the potential for poor standards.

The Wind industry has had more time to establish itself in Northern Ireland but has also been seen as a way to get rich quick which naturally attracts people who are only out for there own ends. As such farmers are more likely to find that they have agreed to a very poor deal when dealing with the wind industry and they should be wise to some of the less professional methods that are being used.

Firstly if you know little about the industry it is safest to deal with a reputable company, as such speak to an industry expert with regards any company you are thinking of signing up to. The industry norm for the rental of a 250kw wind turbine site is approximately 10% of output or £10,000.00- £12,000.00; however, there are some reputable companies offering more than this, do not sign up to an agreement for less than the above figure without good reason. While a 250kw wind turbine will likely produce in the region of £100,000.00 a year there is a considerable expense in erecting and grid connecting a turbine of this scale, when a turbine developer offers money which is well above the industry norm please think carefully before signing any agreement. Always take advice from an industry expert and do your own research into the company. Many wind turbine companies were set up with no experience and no understanding of the market, some of these are attempting to sign up every possible site they can, the worst of these have no intention of ever completing the projects. A number of farmers have contacted us with regards lease agreements they have signed which seemed incredibly good at the time; however, the turbines achieved planning and the turbine developer has made no start on the project. It would appear that a number of companies are tying up wind turbine sites in the hope of selling them on as a parcel to a third party, this sale may take years and is time which the farmer is missing out on any payment. In order to avoid this ensure that there is a time limit on the lease agreement indicating how long after planning is achieved the turbine will be erected, this will also increases the chances that you are working with a company which has turbines ready to go rather than having to wait for up to a year, again without being paid, while a turbine is sourced. What appears to be a good lease may not be a finically wise deal if the payment is stalled by even a year and the farmer has lost out on 1 years rent.

If you are applying for planning yourself with the intention of either erecting the turbine yourself or renting the site you should be aware that the turbine you achieve planning on is the turbine you will need to install due to its specific acoustic performance, do not apply for a top of the range ‘Enercon’ if you do not wish to pay £650,000.00 plus for your turbine or a 27m bladed turbine if you wish to erect a 29m bladed one. The turbine should be chosen for your specific site characteristics to achieve the maximum output and as such the best return, not just be the first turbine which you come across at a price you feel is reasonable. Shop around for deals on second hand turbines as the second hand turbine market has a significant number of unprofessional companies that are charging well over the industry standards for poor standard turbines. Most importantly if you have achieved planning for a 250kw turbine site and you wish to rent it out to a turbine developer you should get an up front payment as well as the yearly rental outlined above, this payment depends on the type of turbine approved and the specific site it is approved on but can be between £15,000.00 and £20,000.00 with some very good sites achieving more than this.

If you would you like any advice on your turbine, or the potential for sites on your land, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.