A renewable energy consultancy, currently specialising mainly in wind farm developments, Green Cat Renewables (GCR), provides specialist services to a variety of clients ranging from landowners to developers on schemes anything from one, two, or three turbines up to 30 turbines.
Green Cat Renewables is made up of a multidisciplinary team of wind and small scale hydro specialists; planners, environmental consultants; civil, electrical, highways, geotechnical and mechanical engineers as well as installation engineers and specialist technicians.
This year the company has project managed 11 projects, together totalling 20 turbines with an approximately 25 Mw capacity, with further schemes involving a total of 38 turbines producing approximately 50 Mw of power already scheduled for next year.
“We use a variety of methods in terms of building out – from balance of plans to a multiple contract approach – whatever best suits the client. We start from the very early stages of the development, taking it through the planning process to gaining consent and assisting with the build in terms of selecting the right contractor and the most suitable form of contract, then carrying out a watching brief and working closely with the contract team and client to ensure timely delivery to the client’s specification.” said Mr Andrew Aveyard of Green Cat Renewables. He added that the company has also carried out Due Diligence work on several projects. This involves reviewing the work involved to compile a report for investors.
Unlike most consultancies, Green Cat Renewables is prepared to carry some of the project development risk, particularly where this can help control the outcome, ensuring a far greater level of commitment to projects than consultants “selling hours”.
Historically, the company has been involved in wind farm projects in Scotland but has now expanded its operations to several schemes in England. “Initially we grew out of Aberdeenshire and from there expanded to cover the whole of Scotland and the Islands, then on into England” said Mr Aveyard.
One example of the exceptional level of expertise and support available from Green Cat Renewables is illustrated by the services provided by the company on the West Knock Wind Cluster turbine project constructed in 2011.
Green Cat Renewables provided technical support from initial site identification, feasibility assessment, environmental assessment, planning support, detailed design, procurement and construction project management.
The key development issues associated with this project – initially a three turbine development – were: civil aviation radar; grid connection and landscape and visual impact.
However, through a process of thorough consultation and considerate project design, a scheme that was acceptable to all of the consultees was developed. As this was a farm diversification project, great care has been taken to manage the risks in such a way that all of the potential problems were dealt with before committing significant expenditure. This significantly reduced the potential for wasted effort.
The key requirements for a project of this nature are: open areas of land heavily exposed to the wind; proximity to the 11kV or 33kV electrical supply, and no special environmental classification or special restrictions on use of the land specified.
Even large modern wind turbines such as those used in this project can be accommodated in a relatively small land area. Leasing land to commercial wind farm developers can bring in a rent of around £10,000 per MW per annum. However, if a farmer develops the project himself, then the income per turbine can be many times this level. A project of this sort will generate an income for up to 25 years.
At present, electricity generated by wind power attracts not only a base level electricity price, but various enhancements due to it being a clean renewable source, giving a total price per unit of renewable electricity of between 9.5p/kWh and 23.5p/kWh depending upon size of scheme.
The West Knock Wind Cluster turbine project was procured under a multi contract approach favoured by GCR because it offers considerable cost savings by splitting the project into a number of contracts which are managed independently.
Before the detailed civil / structural design was started, GCR conducted a detailed site investigation and then produced a Geotechnical Site Investigation ‘interpretive report’ which was used as the starting point for the both the detailed civils design and the detailed foundation design by Enercon Gmbh.
GCR undertook the detailed design for the civils work and supplied and collated all the information needed to carry out the tender process to determine the preferred contractor.
Once the contractor had been agreed, GCR and the contractor worked closely together to provide further engineering designs that provided additional efficiencies that reduced the cost of the civils work.
The planning consent for the wind cluster contained a series of planning conditions much of which were minor, however, a few of them will be more onerous including conditions relating to off site works on the public highway and getting SEPA/LPA approval for construction method statements. GCR worked closely with SEPA/LPA and submitted various technical data and a construction method statement which was accepted, with all the planning condition subsequently being discharged.
Enercon were chosen as the turbine supplier and GCR helped the client negotiate and agree a turbine supply contract and EPK contract (service / warranty agreement). In addition, GCR reviewed the Enercon electrical design and the checked the scope of supply of the overall grid connection with the Enercon and SSE provision to check that nothing was missing.
The client decided to work with the Co-op Bank. GCR then worked closely with the Co-op Bank and all the solicitors to take the project through all the required credit checks, project set up, and agreements that were needed to be put in place before signing off and providing the client with the finance required to pay for all the project elements, including ordering the turbines, grid connection costs and civils contractor.
Once the project had reached financial close, the scheme commenced on site, where GCR undertook construction supervision of all the elements.
The client also appointed GCR as CDM co-ordinator for the project, so initially all the pre-construction information was collated and passed onto the Principal Contractors with whom the construction phase plan was developed and then used by all the different contractors as the project progressed.
Site visits were undertaken to check that the Principal Contractor (as defined in the CDM Regulations) was undertaking responsibility for management of day to day Health and Safety on site and that the work was being undertaken safely.
The project was constructed and connected to the grid on time and within budget, with the turbines energised and starting to generate power at the beginning of November 2011. GCR helped the client with their OFGEM accreditation and power purchase agreements, with the wind cluster anticipated to generate 7,500MWh a year for the next 25 years.