Great Eppleton was first commissioned in March 1997. It was unique to our portfolio as it was the only project using twin-bladed turbines. Whilst the two-bladed technology is not obsolete, it's an ageing technology and the ongoing operational maintenance requirements are significant. In recent years, turbine technology has vastly increased. An individual turbine can now generate the same amount of electricity as the combined total (3MW) of the four old turbines at Great Eppleton.
In January 2007, we submitted a planning application to Sunderland City Council to re-power the wind farm. This would mean removing the old turbines and replacing them with state-of-the-art machines, that would significantly increase the capacity of the scheme. In June 2007, we received consent to proceed.
Construction commenced in early September 2009, with the civil contractor, J. Breheny Contractors Ltd, constructing the new access roads, turbine bases, crane hard standings and the on-site switch house. During this period the electrical contractor, Agrilek Ltd, installed the wind farms electrical infrastructure and completed the electrical fit-out works on the on-site switch house building. The main construction works were completed at the end of January 2010, at which time delivery of the turbines and installation works began. Mechanical completion and pre-commissioning of the four 2MW wind turbine generators was completed at the end of February and they were first connected to the grid in early March.
All four turbines were generating at full capacity by the end of March 2010 and Great Eppleton is now an 8.2MW wind farm which will displace the emissions of around 10,000 tonnes of CO2 each year1 and produce enough energy to meet the needs of around 5,000 homes2.
Our ongoing commitment to the area
Work has recently been completed on a settlement pond on the wind farm site which will provide a haven for wildlife, and in particular, the water vole. The settlement pond follows sponsorship of a water vole survey in the area surrounding the Great Eppleton site. We operate a good neighbour policy at all of the wind farms we manage and as part of this policy a community fund for the local Great Eppleton community is being finalised.
1 This figure is based on the Government's long-term marginal plant figure of 430g CO2/kWh. Although it's very difficult to predict the exact benefit of a wind farm development, we can be certain that over the course of its lifetime, green electricity from a wind turbine will offset large amounts of CO2 that would have otherwise been produced using fossil fuels, such as coal and gas.
2 Based on an annual average domestic household consumption of 4,700kWh.
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