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What is Involved in Wind Farm Construction?

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  • Written By: Matt Brady
  • Edited By: Jenn Walker
  • Last Modified Date: 19 September 2016
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The first and most important component of wind farm construction is a location with substantial wind power. Consistent wind flow is important to keep turbines spinning, which in turn may return the cost of building a wind farm by the electricity generated. Farm placement also is an important consideration. Any electricity generated by a wind farm has to find its way to the main electric grid; situating a farm near existing power lines can make this process easier and more cost effective.

Wind is best captured on open plains, or even offshore, where there are fewer structures and jutting landscape to block wind flow. A wind farm at Cape Cod in the state of Massachusetts in the United States (U.S.) was constructed off-shore, where wind flow is more free and consistent. Officials in Cape Cod claim that the amount of electricity generated by the farm is enough to power most of the island's electricity needs. In contrast, landlocked plains in the U.S. state of Kansas offer the ideal flat landscape for wind to sweep through; several farms have been developed throughout that area. There have been many wind farms constructed in other regions worldwide with similar landscapes to take advantages of similarly windy locations.

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It's a common misnomer that wind farms pump electricity straight into nearby buildings. The reality is that electricity flows into and is pulled out of a main electric grid. Electricity from all kinds of energy sources flows into the same grid. The grid then transports electricity through power transmission lines. If a wind farm isn't placed in a location with existing power transmission lines, a developer has to install new lines to extend the grid's reach to the wind farm site. This can be very expensive, however.

Even T. Boone Pickens, the billionaire with the ambition to build the world's largest wind farm, had to halt his project because of problems with accessing transmission lines. If wind farm construction is done at a site with access to existing power lines, the cost of construction may be much cheaper, and electricity from the farm will be able to enter the grid that much faster.

Even the most carefully planned wind farm construction isn't cheap. Even with the most strategic and cost-efficient location, construction will likely cost tens of millions of dollars. Depending on the company or organization building the farm, it may be wise to seek out venture capital firms and investors who support green energy innovation. Finding the right sponsors and financial backers can greatly increase a wind farm's chances of success.

Another important consideration for wind farm construction is the possible expense of having to pay off private landowners. If a company constructing a wind farm wants to do so on a landowner's private property, they'll likely have to provide compensation. This can be fairly expensive, and regions should be carefully researched for this possibility prior to construction.

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