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Whitegate Renewable Energy Project

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About The Project

The proposed wind farm development is located in Whitegate, Co. Cork. The proposed project is being developed by Natural Forces, who acknowledge that working on these lands is a privilege that comes with a great deal of responsibility. As such, the project, could have a total capacity of up to 100 MW, representing up to 3-4 turbines and 49 hectares of solar.

Project Updates

As we develop this project, we are committed to providing the public with frequent updates and the results of our environmental studies in this section.

Project Milestone Timeline

December 2022 – Pre-planning meeting request submitted to Cork County Council
January 2023 – Land agreements finalised

Who is proposing this project?

Natural Forces

Natural Forces is an independent power producer that develops, owns, and operates renewable energy projects. Natural Forces was established in 2001 and has its head office in Halifax, NS, as well as regional offices in Chetwynd, British Columbia; Quispamsis, New Brunswick; Dublin, Ireland; and New York State. Collectively, Natural Forces has close to 300 MW of renewable energy projects in operation across Canada, with several ongoing projects at various stages of completion in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island, Labrador, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, Ireland, and New York

The senior management team at Natural Forces has over 70 years of combined renewable energy experience encompassing all project life cycle activities in a range of international locations including Canada, Ireland, Poland, the UK, and Australia. Natural Forces is an integrated developer and operator of renewable energy assets. The in-house team undertakes all activities from initial site selection, development, financing, construction, operations, and asset management. Our vision is to develop, construct, operate, and own clean renewable energy projects across Canada in partnership with local and Indigenous communities.

Why here?

When developing a wind project, it is crucial to find the most suitable location and community to host it.  To do so, there are four main factors to consider during the site finding phase of development:

  • Wind resource
  • Solar resource
  • Distance to existing electrical and civil infrastructure
  • Environmental sensitivity
  • Socio-economic concerns

The location of the Whitegate Renewable Energy Project was selected after a thorough review of all of these factors.

Community Engagement

Natural Forces is committed to engaging with the public, stakeholders, and stakeholder groups throughout the lifetime of the project. We are both keen to ensure the community understands the project details and is aware of project activities, and to accept input and feedback from community members. Below is information about the major public and stakeholder engagement activities that have taken place to date, including summaries of the information that has been shared at our open houses.

Public Consultation

Public consultation for this project has yet to take place. Check back for updates.

What is the process?

1

Development
(Current Stage)

  • Assess the wind resource
  • Survey for environmentally sensitive features
  • Optimize turbine location to capture the wind efficiently and minimize impact on sensitive features
  • Begin consultation with regulators and the public
  • Conduct and present the Environmental Impact Assessment for environmental approval
  • Apply for road, work and construction permits​

2

Construction

  • Clear trees for roads and turbine pads
  • Build access roads and pad areas
  • Pour the turbine foundation
  • Assemble the wind turbine
  • Connect to grid

3

Operation

  • Commission the wind turbines to start producing power
  • Conduct post-construction wildlife monitoring
  • Monitor remotely for real-time alerts when additional maintenance is needed
  • Operate for 30 years​

4

Decommission or Retrofit

  • Assess wind turbine after 30 years
  • Decommission wind turbines in 3-6 months
  • Reclaim the site to its former state OR
  • Receive approvals and permits to retrofit the turbine to continue harnessing energy​

Environmental Impact Assessment

In Ireland any project that exceeds 5MW or 5 turbines are required to complete an environmental impact assessment (EIA). During this process a team of consultants will undertake surveys to evaluate the location and overall impact of the project on the surrounding area. As this project will exceed 5MW a full EIA will have to be completed.

Frequently Asked Questions

Natural Forces undertakes rigorous environmental impact assessments ahead of construction to determine existing environmental sensitivities and potential impacts on the project to the environment. This information will be reviewed by county councils and will be open for public comment.

The proposed turbines will be set back at least 500m or 4 times overall tip height in line with the WEG 2006 and 2019 respectively.

No. A study carried out by the HSE in 2017 investigated the health effects of wind turbines. This study found there is no support for adverse effects on health from wind turbines. The summary of these results can be reviewed here.

Solar panels that produce electricity are known as solar photovoltaic (PV) modules. These panels generate electricity when exposed to light. Solar PV is the rooftop solar you see on homes and businesses. The solar electric panels capture the light from the sun and convert it into the electricity that is used in your home to power your TV, kettle, toaster, phone charger, radio, oven, and so on.

A solar electric system (PV) is typically made up of:

  • Solar panels, which generate DC (direct current – like in a battery).
  • An ‘Inverter’ which converts this to AC (alternating current – like the electricity in your house socket).
  • Sometimes a battery on larger systems to save energy for later use.

​For this project, Natural Forces leases land from private landowners. Over the course of several years, we have developed trusted relationships with the landowners and in all instances the land remains in the ownership of the landowner and is leased for the duration of the project. No land has been leased from unwilling landowners.

During construction, Natural Forces makes every attempt to hire local contractors, using our in-house construction management company, Natural Forces Construction, to ensure smaller contractors are able to participate. ​

Wind turbines have moving parts and therefore some sound can be expected. However, well-designed wind turbines are generally quiet in operation, and compared to the noise of road traffic, trains, aircraft, and construction activities, to name but a few, the sound from wind turbines is very low. As wind turbine technology has evolved, the sounds emitted have decreased. The further away you are from a project, the less sound it will make. This site will likely have trees and other barriers that would break a lot of the sound before it reaches homes. A typical wind project would have a noise level of between 35-45 decibels. For reference, the compressor of a refrigerator produces 40-45 decibels. Stories of excessive noise often come from areas where the turbines are very close to homes. Natural Forces follows the minimum standards for distance from residences laid out by local regulations.

For more information contact:

Jonathan Coffey, Project Manager
+353876352172
jcoffey@naturalforces.ie

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