Community Wind Handbook/Identify Motivation for the Project

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WIND ENERGY STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT & OUTREACHCommunity Wind Handbook

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Community Wind Handbook


Identify the Motivation for the Project

Defining the motivation for your large community wind project is an important first step that will provide a foundation to build on.

A 1.5-MW GE wind turbine at Anheuser-Busch in Fairfield, California, provide 25% of facility's load. Photo from Foundation Windpower, NREL 26500.

The National Renewable Energy Laboratory’s (NREL) 2013 report A Framework for Project Development in the Renewable Energy Sector identified five essential areas for strong project motivation. This section summarizes the framework established in that report to help you identify and define the motivation behind your large community wind project.

Baseline. What are the fundamental reason(s) for the project? Projects can have multiple purposes (monetary gain, environmental message, clean energy production, energy independence, etc.). An objective analysis of your investment objectives, current energy supply situation, and a clear statement of other project goals should help develop this baseline.

Economics. Will this project be a sound investment? If the motivation for the project is investment driven, conducting an analysis of energy economics (total costs of acquiring energy from existing sources versus costs of proposed project) is an important step. Understanding the risk profile associated with each economic driver and the return on investment (ROI) of competing alternative investments (e.g., a 401K) can also help answer this question.

Policy. Do current policies support a large community wind project? An early examination of federal, state, and local regulatory practices can help define policy incentives and barriers prior to investing significant time or money pursuing a project. Identifying favorable and unfavorable policies early in the process can help determine whether further mitigation, removal, or compromise will be needed later in the development of your wind project.

Technology. Which technology will best fit your large community wind project? Establishing a portfolio that contains preliminary wind resource information for your site will help in determining which wind turbine technology is best suited for your location. Many wind energy systems are available, and it is important to differentiate between reliable technologies and "non-bankable" or unrealistic early-stage technologies so that project stakeholders can make informed decisions.

Consensus. Do stakeholders agree with the proposed project? Reaching team consensus regarding the fundamentals of your large community wind project is a vital step necessary for project success. Achieving this level of agreement involves the input, investment, and possible compromise of project stakeholders. Without this effort, precious resources may not be made available, and involved parties may become project adversaries before construction begins.[1]

References

  1.  "National Renewable Energy Laboratory. A Framework for Project Development in the Renewable Energy Sector"