Wind farm developers designate and arrange for the building of an infrastructure on a land or offshore site in order to productively exploit wind energy. A landowner can develop a wind farm or be a host to wind farm developers. When developing a wind farm, knowledge of a site, most importantly its wind and land characteristics, is crucial.
Developers aim to keep costs low by choosing sites near existing high-voltage transmission lines to save money on infrastructure. Choosing a site for a successful wind farm is dependent on wind speed on the land. Wind speeds under 11 miles per hour (17 kilometers per hour) are usually not conducive to success. Weather stations and nearby airports can provide wind speed data. A developer may also hire a wind consultant to assess resources initially. As it becomes more established, a wind farm will have its own devices to monitor wind data.
Wind farm developers are responsible for securing the land for a wind farm, either public or private. Many decisions must be made, including road access for transmission set-up, turbine locations, whether the land can handle the required heavy equipment, and future maintenance. Also, they settle all leasing and compensation issues with the landowner. Issues with adjacent landowners may arise, such as neighbors who object to living next to a wind farm. Sometimes, environmental regulations must be satisfied with a local agency. Other considerations include wildlife habitats, environmental issues and possible interference by wind turbines of local flight patterns.
Typically, wind farm developers have access to money. Wind farms require large sums to build. According to the American Wind Energy Association (AWEA), approximately $40 million US Dollars is the average investment to develop wind power on a piece of land. Developers need to ensure that development costs will pay off using available wind sources. A developer also makes sure of a strong commitment from whoever will be purchasing the power.
Knowing about economical investments and wind energy trends, as well as the technical aspects of wind energy, gives wind farm developers an advantage. Business acumen helps when obtaining investment capital, and a technical understanding of wind energy helps wind farm developers weigh cost against productivity. Turbines are becoming more efficient as technology advances. Knowing that the blades of the wind turbines must be of a length that captures wind's energy enough to be cost-effective helps with development costs.
Additionally, even slight changes in wind speed can increase electricity use and, therefore, cost. Professional wind energy consultants work with wind farm developers who may not possess this type of knowledge. Once developed, the owner may employ an experienced operation manager to run the wind farm.