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Case Study – Spanish Wind Farm – Telecommunications

Positive Outcome

Pager Power helped a wind farm developer agree an amount for technical mitigation allowing its purchase of a wind farm project to go ahead.

Background

Our client, an international wind developer, was in the process of acquiring a permitted onshore wind farm in Spain. The wind farm site is on a hill which has a number of operational telecommunications masts on it. There was a concern that the wind turbines could interfere with the telecommunications services.

What Did Pager Power Do?

Pager Power undertook:

  • An initial site survey
  • A telecommunications impact assessment
  • A review of the selling party’s telecommunications assessment
  • A further site survey with the selling party’s telecommunications engineer
  • Preparation of a joint impact assessment

Wind Farm (Proposed)

The proposed wind farm comprised 14 turbines each having maximum tip heights in excess of 100 metres. The wind farm is to be located on top of a hill in Spain. 

Telecommunications Services

There are thirteen existing masts hosting a mixture of point to point and wide area radio telecommunications services. Two wind turbine locations were less than 500 metres from the nearest telecommunications mast.

How Do Wind Turbines Affect Telecommunications?

Moving and static wind turbine components can adversely affect radio communications. The main interference mechanisms are Emissions, Blocking and Reflections. The main effects of concern in this case were blocking and reflections. Physically turbines can block and weaken signals. They can also reflect unwanted radio signals in an apparent random flickering fashion. The services most affected are point to point microwave links (affected by blocking) and television broadcast services (affected by reflections).

Predicted Impact

It was clear that the proposed wind development was going to effect telecommunications services. This project was not really about whether there would be an impact. It was more about quantifying the impact and determining who held responsibility for mitigating any adverse impacts and who was responsible for paying for any mitigation.

Unknowns

There were many unknowns with this project. When we took on this project we understood that there were three telecommunications masts. Imagine our surprise on finding thirteen when we got there!

There were many telecommunications services that should have been licensed but were not and there were also unlicensed telecommunications masts. There was very little on site information to indicate who operated what links and services. Further the information that is held by the licensing authorities is not publicly available.

Also it is not clear who has the responsibility for mitigating the impact of a permitted wind farm on a radio telecommunications service that does not have the necessary approvals.

How Would Impacts Be Mitigated?

The main methodology for mitigating the impacts of wind turbines on microwave links and other telecommunications services is to re-route and relocate them. For this particular wind development it is likely that a number of new telecommunications masts will be required with a significant number of masts and services needing to be relocated.

Delivering A Solution

Given all these unknowns it appeared difficult to deliver an estimation of a reasonable mitigation cost that was acceptable to both the seller and the buyer of the wind farm. This was, however, achieved at high level. The process involved:

  • Estimating the number of services that might be affected based on survey results
  • Identifying a potential mitigation solution
  • Determining the cost of individual elements of the mitigation solution
  • Estimating the number of masts and services that were licensed and legal
  • Determining and agreeing an overall mitigation cost

Pager Power’s Services

Pager Power undertakes telecommunications impact assessments for wind farm developers. These assessments can help with minimising the risk of a wind farm being delayed by planning issues and can also help reduce telecommunications mitigation costs. For more information contact Mike Watson at Pager Power on 01787 319001.

wind farm telecommunications interference
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