From design to decommissioning, there are eight distinct phases - each of which in turn also has several stages - in the life cycle of a wind farm.
Phase 1: Pre-feasibility
The purpose of the pre-feasibility analysis is to conduct a low-cost assessment of various potential sites for wind farms.
- Pre-select sites.
- Prepare a simplified design for the best sites.
- Choose the wind turbine model.
- Prepare preliminary cost estimates and draw up financial summaries for the best sites.
- Draft a pre-feasibility report.
Phase 2: Feasibility analysis
When the pre-feasibility analysis shows the project to be viable, the proponent continues its analysis in the field to confirm the preliminary information and the hypotheses.
- Inspect the site.
- Conduct an informal public consultation.
- Assess the site's wind energy potential in a detailed and precise manner.
- Conduct a preliminary environmental assessment.
- Prepare a preliminary design for the wind farm.
- Estimate costs and prepare a financial summary.
- Draft a feasibility report.
Phase 3: Development
If the conclusions drawn from the feasibility analysis are positive, the proponent decides to go ahead with the project. A number of steps still have to be successfully completed before construction can begin.
- Obtain permits and approvals (once proposal has been accepted).
- Obtain land rights for the sites.
- Survey the site.
- Negotiate financing for the project's preliminary phases.
- Negotiate financing for the project's development phases.
- Negotiate an insurance contract.
- Negotiate an engineering contract.
Phase 4: Engineering
This involves planning all the undertakings associated with the construction and operation of the project. The proponent chooses the sub-contractors that will be involved in the project.
- Choose final wind turbine sites.
- Design mechanical and electrical systems.
- Design civil engineering infrastructure.
- Negotiate and conclude calls for tenders and contracts with suppliers.
- Plan maintenance of the wind farm.
- Plan management of the construction and operation phases as well as the environmental monitoring and follow-up required during those phases.
- Plan decommissioning.
Phase 5: Construction
While construction is underway, the many contractors involved must be able to coordinate their work and all the equipment in use at the site. The success of this phase hinges largely on how well the preceding phases were prepared.
- Prepare construction and maintenance infrastructure.
- Perform civil engineering work.
- Install machines.
- Install and connect electrical equipment.
Phase 6: Commissioning
This involves verifying all the equipment and infrastructure that make up the wind farm, and marks the beginning of the project's operation phase.
- Commission power station:
- Perform mechanical tests to ensure compliance with manufacturer's specifications.
- Verify electrical and communication systems.
- Restore condition of access roads and control erosion.
- Clean site.
- Approve commercial commissioning of the power station and take official possession of the project.
Phase 7: Operation
Operation of a wind farm includes control, monitoring and maintenance activities that must be performed precisely to keep downtime to a minimum.
- Monitor daily operation of the power station.
- Perform periodic maintenance.
- Carry out the environmental follow-up program.
Phase 8: Decommissioning
When the power station's activity must come to an end for whatever reason (end of the machinery's service life, lack of markets, etc.), the developer must dismantle the facilities in an acceptable manner, in compliance with the agreements concluded while the project was being planned.
- Dismantle machinery and other installations.
- Restore site to its original condition in compliance with agreements concluded with landowners and other stakeholders (ministries and departments, municipalities, etc.)