Author: Liam Lyng, construction projects manager, Mainstream Renewable Power
Mainstream Renewable Power is a global wind and solar company that was founded by Eddie O’Connor in 2008. It employs over 160 people and is developing, building and operating wind and solar farms across four continents. Mainstream’s first Irish project, the Knockaneden Wind Farm in Co Kerry, will complete its first year in operation this November.
The wind farm, which is located near Caherciveen in Co Kerry, was delivered into commercial operation on budget in November 2012. It produces 9 megawatts of electricity that feeds into the Irish grid, which is enough to power over six thousand houses.
[caption id="attachment_7739" align="alignright" width="768"] Fig 1: Blade delivery at O'Connell Bridge[/caption]
The nearest load centre, Caherciveen town, is tail fed from the Irish grid and has an approximate load of 5 megawatts. Previously, the power required by the town had to be transferred from the national grid via a long 38kV radial overhead line. Much of the power was being lost along the way in the grid system components, including the upstream 110/38kV transformer substation and the 50km long 38kV overhead line.
After construction of the wind farm, the power is now provided locally from the wind farm via a new 38kV substation looped into the pre-existing 38kV overhead line. The result is an offset of the power required to be imported, thus reducing the power loss in the national grid. The town is now supplied with power locally from the wind farm, with any excess generated injected back into the national grid. The carbon footprint of the town is therefore reduced. When this wind farm produces over 50 per cent output at any given time, Caherciveen town is consuming 100 per cent renewable energy.
The construction of the wind farm was split between four main construction contracts: