Five of the biggest community-led renewable power projects

20 December 2015 (Last Updated December 20th, 2015 18:30)

Community and locally-owned renewable power projects are becoming increasingly popular and are growing in scale. Power-technology.com lists five of the biggest community-led power projects based on installed capacity.

Five of the biggest community-led renewable power projects

Crow Lake wind project

Crow Lake Wind Project, US – 162MW

At 162MW, the Crow Lake wind farm is the biggest co-operative-owned wind farm in the US. Spanning three counties in South Dakota, the project was developed by PrairieWinds SD 1, a subsidiary of Basin Electric Power Cooperative, in collaboration with South Dakota Wind Partners (SKWP), a group of local community investors led by East River Electric along with SD Corn Utilization Council, SD Farmers Union, and SD Farm Bureau.

The wind farm was developed with an estimated investment of $363m, of which $17m was raised by SKWP following 28 investor meetings. The project is equipped with 108 turbines, 100 of which are owned by PrairieWinds SD 1, one is owned by Mitchell Technical Institute (MTI) for training wind technology students, and seven are owned and operated by SKWP, who sell the output to PrairieWinds SD 1.

Located approximately 14mi (22.5km) north of White Lake, the 162MW renewable project was commissioned in February 2011. The general contractor for the project was MasTec and GE supplied its 1.5MW wind turbines.

Princess Alexia (Zuidlob) Wind Farm, Netherlands – 122.4MW

The 122.4MW Princess Alexia wind farm (formerly Zuidlob), located at Zeewolde, Flevoland Province, Netherlands, is the biggest single owner-held wind farm in the Netherlands and currently serves approximately 88,000 households. First conceived in 1988, the project is a result of the collaboration between Nuon (Vattenfall) and Zuidlob, a group created in 2005 by the local authority, the provincial government and 63 landowners.

Nuon entered the project in 2008 holding a 5% interest, and acquired full ownership in October 2011 based on an agreement to pay fixed financial compensation to the land-owning farmers for 20 years. Nuon invested approximately SEK1.4bn in the project development.
The onshore wind farm, commissioned in September 2013, is equipped with 36 REpower 3.4M 104 type turbines. Windhoist was the turbine erection contractor for the project.

Beebe Community Wind Farm

Beebe Community Wind Farm, US – 81.6MW

The Beebe Community wind farm, located in Gratiot County, Michigan, US, is the brainchild of Mark Hull, the principal of Beebe Community Wind Farm LLC, the project’s local developer. The project, initiated in 2007, received a $50,000 Rural Energy for America Program (REAP) grant covering 25% of the feasibility study cost in 2009. Approximately 20,000 acres of land was leased from the local land owners.

Beebe Community Wind Farm collaborated with Nordex USA to execute the project. Commissioned in December 2012, the 81.6MW wind farm is equipped with 34 Nordex N117-2.4MW type turbines. The output from the project is sold to Consumers Energy under a long-term contract.

The project is now owned by Exelon Wind, who initiated the wind farm’s Phase II expansion project in 2013. The expansion is expected to increase the installed capacity to 127.2MW, capable of powering approximately 40,000 households. It is the first project to use the Nordex N117 turbines.

Feldheim Village Energy Project, Germany – 81MW

Feldheim Village in the state of Brandenburg, Germany, is an energy self-sufficient village that consumes just 1% of the electricity from its own regional electricity grid, while the remaining energy is exported to the national grid. The village, with a population of roughly 130 people, generates renewable energy from a wind farm, a 500kW biomass plant and a photovoltaic (PV) solar farm.

The road to complete energy self-sufficiency began in 1995 with the installation of the first wind turbine by a local entrepreneur. The village went on to source funds and reached an agreement with the local power firm Energiequelle for the development of the wind farm, completing the installation of five wind turbines that same year.

The Feldheim wind farm is currently equipped with 42 Enercon wind turbines, with an installed capacity of 81MW. The latest development at Feldheim is the installation of an LG Chem 10MW lithium ion storage facility, which was completed in September 2015 using funds granted by the Brandenburg state government and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Feldheim Village Energy Project

Golden Spread Panhandle Wind Ranch (GSPWR), US – 78.2MW

The Golden Spread Panhandle Wind Ranch (GSPWR) located near Wildorado, traversing the Oldham and Potter Counties in Texas, is owned by Golden Spread Electric Cooperative, a tax exempt consumer-owned public utility formed in 1984. The project currently consists of 16 rural electric distribution co-operative members serving approximately 231,000 member-consumers.

The facility, which has been commercially operational since September 2011, is spread over an area of 7,200 acres leased from 14 land owners. The project was acquired from affiliates of Cielo Wind Power, who held a 100% ownership interest in Wildorado Wind II, a company that held the rights to develop the project.

GSPWR is equipped with 34 Siemens 2.3MW turbines and has an annual output of approximately 342.5GWh, which serves approximately 30,000 households a year. The general contractor for the project was Wanzek Construction, a subsidiary of MasTec Company., WoodGroup is the operator.