With a planned area of 63 square kilometers, Davvi wind farm will become a large wind power plant, but it is also very energy-efficient. The size of the wind power plant is precisely what helps to minimize the negative consequences for biodiversity per unit of energy produced.
One large intervention is more efficient than many small ones
– One large intervention is more efficient than many small ones, begins Svein Skudal Aase, Managing Director of Grenselandet DA.
The fact that a larger wind turbine farm is more energy-efficient requires an explanation, and part of it is relatively simple. A wind farm, regardless of its size, will affect the surrounding areas beyond the size of the project area - the so-called "influence area".
– For each of these facilities, you will have to establish access roads, which to some extent can impact the environment. Wind turbines will also be visible well beyond the geographic area of the wind farm itself, regardless of the farm's size, explains Skudal Aase.
There are six permit-granted wind power projects in the northern part of Nordland, Troms, and Finnmark. The combined influence areas of these are nearly six times the size of the Davvi wind farm, even though the latter will produce more electricity than all the other wind power plants combined.
– So with the Davvi wind farm, we get more electricity on one-sixth of the total influence area, emphasizes the managing director.
Considering the power situation, it is very important that we get the production we have outlined so that we can contribute to facilitating industrial development in Finnmark
But to take a step back. What is actually a large, and what is a small wind farm? It's not a straightforward answer to that question, but it probably lies at the intersection of area, the number of turbines, and total production capacity. Skudal Aase believes that it's not primarily the area that defines the size of a wind farm but rather the production you manage to achieve in the same area.
– I think that what primarily defines the size is how many megawatts (MW) of electricity are produced. I consider wind farms up to 100 MW as smaller, says Skudal Aase.
– It's also the case that the number of turbines varies greatly. For instance, a single turbine can produce anywhere from three to eight MW, he adds.
The physical size of the turbines will also play a role here. In the case of the Davvi wind farm, the wind resources are so good that you don't need to go to great heights with large blades to harness the wind. Nevertheless, Davvi must be considered a large wind farm, both in terms of area and capacity, regardless of whether it ends up with 60 or 166 turbines.
It's a large area, but it also yields a significant production. We must find the balance in the number of turbines and make considerations regarding the type of turbines that are most suitable based on the wind conditions at the site. Sometimes it can be advantageous to use smaller turbines because it makes it easier to access the area, says the managing director.
Effective use of highly suitable areas is crucial when intervening in pristine nature. The planned area for Davvi wind farm has a low biodiversity and almost optimal wind resources. With these conditions in place, it is yet another good reason to make the most of the area for a large wind farm.
– Every wind farm has some negative consequences. In total, these are far fewer when building large facilities where conditions are favorable. If we can build large installations where it has less impact on nature, the negative impact per produced kWh is low, emphasizes Skudal Aase, before adding:
– The question of small or large wind farms is also a political one. Municipalities are responsible for facilitating this and must consider the repercussions created by both small and large wind farms.
Of course, it is also financially advantageous to build on a large scale when construction is already underway. Economies of scale are evident, especially in areas with good wind resources and a high number of production hours.
– It is cheaper to build on a large scale. The fixed costs decrease, allowing you to produce energy at a lower cost, emphasizes Skudal Aase.
– When we can provide renewable energy at a low price in a specific area, it will attract other power-intensive industries. Cheap renewable energy will automatically bring opportunities and increase the likelihood of positive ripple effects in the region, he continues.
Davvi wind farm has been scaled down in size several times. Today, the planned area covers an area of 63 km2. The managing director of Grenselandet believes that it is important for this area to maintain its size if it is realized.
– Considering the power situation, it is very important that we get the production we have outlined so that we can facilitate the industrial development in Finnmark, says Svein Skudal Aase.