There has been an increasing demand for energy globally and with the emission of harmful gases due to fossil fuels, the need for Renewable Energy Sources (RES) has risen threefold. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing segments of the electricity market in many nations and this trend will likely continue as countries strive to reduce greenhouse gas emissions while meeting growing energy demands.  While increasing wind energy generation will reduce emissions, it may also result in landscape change associated with developing new facilities having potentially negative impact on the environment and other ecosystem functions.

Therefore, it becomes important to change the way we produce this energy by focusing on sustainability.

The concept of sustainability

Traditionally, sustainability has been framed in the three-pillar model: Economy, Ecology and Society are all considered to be interconnected and relevant for sustainability.

The relationship between renewable energy and sustainability can be viewed as a practice that requires the reasonable use of resources, technologies, appropriate economic incentives and strategic policy planning at the local and national levels. The European Union has guidelines associated with Natura 2000 that describe a `strategic planning’ approach to wind energy development. It is important to include approaches that has considerations of habitat loss and fragmentation that can be caused by wind facility. Among the RES, wind energy plays an important role. Its development is an excellent example of the advantages and difficulties which are inherent in the development of this technology in the context of Sustainable development. In an attempt to assess wind power, it is necessary to look at the social, environmental and economic issues in the context of the sustainable development concept.

Our approach to Sustainability

Sustainability is not about philanthropy or making us look better than we are. It is about building a profitable, sustainable wind energy facility that delivers value for all of the stakeholders now and in the future.

Wind Pioneers is a specialist venture which partners with wind developers providing a range of services covering wind mapping, site evaluation, prefeasibility studies, wind resource assessments etc. Wind Pioneers is uniquely set up to provide its suite of innovative technical expertise, tools and services to help find, develop and evaluate prospective sites for wind farm establishment.

Employee Diversity: At Wind pioneers, we believe in diversity of workforce as one our key assets. People from different educational and cultural background enrich our company. We have integrated sustainability by harnessing a multidisciplinary domain of team members of Engineers, GIS specialists, Ecologists, Developers, Climate change expert, many others adding to the three-pillar model.

State of art: GIS is potentially well suited for locating wind farms as it has capabilities to manage and analyse the volumes of diverse multidisciplinary data to find potential wind farm sites. Here, we take into consideration that Land is a scarce resource, especially because of its multiple demands for use. To find prospective sites for wind farm establishment, we integrate spatial planning and energy planning using suitable GIS tools to optimize the use of space.

There are a number of constraints that limit the land available for wind farm development across globe. Defining constraints can be a challenging process and very subjective to each terrain and landscape. It is important to identify these constraints to reduce the wind energy’s footprint on land and to find a potential site. There are number of these constraints like land use types, military establishments, airports, ecologically important areas, heritage areas, terrain factors, human settlements etc that we take into consideration during the site finding process. A setback around these land features are generated marking them as unsuitable such that no wind farm development can occur within these areas for e.g.: a setback of 2 km around the boundary of ecologically important areas was applied in one of our assessment.

Figure 2 showing some of the development constraints

Each of these Setbacks and developments constraint have been taken from a range of sources adding up to our GIS database repository. Finally, these constraints will be inputted and weighed using Wind Pioneers’ proprietary software along with the calibrated and blended wind maps to identify areas which are suitable for development. The preceding constraints will be combined to produce a map of land available for the wind farm development.

Figure 3 shows a sample region with the unavailable areas in blue.

Way forward 

When establishing a wind farm, an important part of planning should be an assessment of the proposed location and the surrounding environment. This includes the local communities and how the proposed wind farm could potentially impact the physical and social environment. We strongly recommend our clients to take up the environmental impact assessment for the proposed sites with a team of experts (biologist/ecologist) to ensure full responsibility for our environmental footprint. In many countries, environmental and social impact assessments are required by law, or are part of the sustainability requirements of international financial institutions which support infrastructure projects.

We work closely with our customers throughout every stage of the project and have always worked hard to carefully balance profitable growth, integrity and sustainability. With our Due Diligence methodology, we are very committed and are constantly raising our bars to set new standards in this industry.

Rashmi MK

Here is Rashmi, who has been part of this amazing family of ‘wind pioneers’ from its start. She plays the role of Head of GIS and enjoys being part of the team. She has come by as a reliable hand to the company and firmly believes in her capabilities to manage and analyse large volumes of diverse Global multidisciplinary data. While she is off her laptop, she loves travelling into the Jungles and to exotic places. She is also known to be a good cook as her teammates love a bit from her lunch box!