Galway Wind Park – greening our national energy and decarbonising power generation
12 July 2016
The Galway Wind Park (GWP) Delivery Team is delighted to have been announced as the winners of the ‘Excellence in Sustainability’ category at the recent Irish Construction Industry Awards. The GWP Delivery Team consists of SSE and Coillte as the client and Roadbridge acting as the project supervisor (construction stage) and main civil works contractor.
The GWP is a wind-farm cluster that consists of a total of up to 69 wind turbines with an energy output capacity of 169MW. When completed, it will be the largest onshore wind farm in Ireland. GWP will produce enough green energy to power approximately 84,000 homes, which is equivalent to almost 90% of the homes in Co Galway. The green energy produced at GWP will help to offset approximately 190,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions every year from fossil fuel generation.
Phase 1 of the project (24 permitted turbines) entered construction in February 2015 and is owned and financed by SSE. Phase 2 (45 permitted turbines) is a 50/50 joint venture between SSE and Coillte. Galway Wind Park is expected to complete in 2017.
A number of project goals have been identified, including demonstrating industry best-practice in social acceptance and the successful integration of energy, environment, heritage and technology during pre-planning, planning and the current construction phase of this project – illustrating how these elements can enable each other and operate harmoniously.
As part of the ongoing continuous improvement techniques employed, this project was externally audited by Achilles, a UK-based pre-qualification system for clients and the site was awarded a score of 100% in the ‘Environmental’ category as an indication of the sustainability systems employed on the project.
Commitment and sustainable materials
Our people are key to delivering project excellence so we have focused our efforts on supporting the training, safety, health and engagement of our team. Training on this project is ongoing and includes safety training, environmental awareness, emergency spill response, first aid, emergency drills, project inductions, daily pre-task briefings and weekly toolbox talks.
The GWP Delivery Team has put in place a system for recording safety and environmental site observations (SEARs). Operatives receive a SEARs booklet at induction and can submit observations/concerns anonymously to collection boxes located throughout the site. This information is used to establish areas for improvement and supports a constant focus on safety and environmental awareness.
Some of the health initiatives on the project include: regular visits of a public health nurse to site, health-awareness campaigns, promotion of healthy eating on site in addition to the canteen’s hot-meal menu served daily for all operatives at no cost to them, and healthy eating booklets provided by safety officers.
The GWP project has rolled out a behaviour-based safety (BBS) programme. The objective of this programme is to raise the site’s safety culture and general awareness of safety through ‘one on one’ engagement. Management and supervisors partake in specialised training to assist them in this form of engagement with operatives. Senior managers complete reports from each visit and also participate in the daily pre-task briefings to show their level of commitment.
Our primary focus during the planning and programming of this project has been to utilise best practices to minimise waste, travel distances and to encourage local suppliers to enter tenders for the supply of labour, materials and plant to GWP. Some of these measures include the following:
- Current figures for the construction phase of this project demonstrate that over 48% of the total spend on subcontractor services and over 64% of the expenditure on material and suppliers has been from within the local community, reducing transportation costs and maintaining local employment. The project team organised a ‘Meet the Buyer’ event in order to assist and encourage contractors from the area to enter the tendering process;
- Some 95% of structural components required for construction of the site compound were recycled/reused from a previous project. The construction of the compound is modular in nature, which ensures that it can be completely remobilised to the next site with little or no wastage;
- The construction of the turbine bases are all repetitive in nature. The reinforcement steel for each base is delivered as required to the base, leading to minimal wastage;
- We have utilised a concrete design mix (70%-30%), which reduces the amount of cement required, replacing the cement with GGBS (ground-granulated blast-furnace slag) on GWP.
|GGBS is a by-product of steel-manufacturing process||Use of GGBS extends the life cycle of concrete structures|
|Enhanced durability, reduced maintenance and repair costs of the concrete structure||Reduces lifetime construction costs|
The low environmental impact production of GGBS involves virtually zero CO2 emissions and no emissions of SO2, NOX, CO, PM10
The main energy consumer during construction activity is heavy plant, so we have focused our efforts on reducing emissions from these items. Some of the energy saving measures employed on this project includes the following examples:
- A battery-based power source for off-peak/night-time energy and lighting requirements in compound offices, canteen and IT servers, resulting in an estimated saving of 271 tCO₂e per annum over traditional generator emissions;
- Replacement of 19 older inefficient items of plant and machinery with new Komatsu and Volvo Excavators utilising clean technology such as Diesel Particulate Filters which capture more than 90% of particulate matter, meaning they run more efficiently, are cleaner and have reduced NOx emissions;
- Monthly monitoring of energy efficiency of new plant by manufacturers and energy efficient features such as auto-shutoff of engine, eco-mode for low energy work, resulting in a decrease of up to 25% in fuel consumption;
- The site itself when completed will produce enough green energy to power approximately 84,000 homes and help to offset approximately 190,000 tonnes of CO₂ emissions every year from fossil fuel generation.
Emissions during the construction stage of the project are the main part of emissions created by the project and as such is where most of our reduction measures have been aimed. The project team has reduced the use of vehicles through the following initiatives:
- Car-pool arrangement for 50 cars adjacent to the site entrance, circa 7km from the site construction compound, with mini-vans transporting construction team operatives to and around site;
- Site canteens providing breakfast and hot dinner to all workers daily, avoiding travel to local villages;
- Commitment to reducing commuter distance – currently over 27% of the projects civil contract workforce live within 10km of project;
- Quarry closest to north work fronts and quarry closest to south work fronts selected respectively for aggregate supply;
- Borrow pits on site provide aggregate to construct 68% of permitted infrastructure;
- Seventeen houses are rented in local areas for personnel who have long distances to commute and a car-pooling arrangement is in place from these houses to the construction site.
We have also considered the longer-term local community transport emissions. To help reduce these emissions, the project helped fund a local footpath initiative to reduce use of vehicles. Commitment to help fund a further extension that will reduce necessity to use cars from Doon East to Doon West has been given, subject to the community securing planning permission and land rights. The project will also result in the upgrading (widening and provision of passing bays) of 6km of public roads, e.g. Shannapheasteen and Doon Roads.
The overall management strategy for the minimisation of waste arising’s on site includes the following:
A site waste-management plan has been put in place and the site environmental manager has overall responsibility for its implementation. Toolbox talks are held periodically to remind employees of their responsibilities under the plan. The following are specific examples of practices on site that are in place to minimise and recycle wastes generated on site:
|Canteen waste segregated at source and collected by Walsh Waste for composting||All used printer ink cartridges are boxed up and sent to local charities|
|All batteries are collected on site and sent to WEEE Ireland for recycling. €5 per box of batteries received from the site goes to the charity Laura Lynn Foundation||All timber/wood waste is either reused on site or placed in a dedicated timber skip to await collection by Walsh Waste|
|All dry recyclable waste sent off-site for recycling. Dedicated bins are provided in the courtyard for office recycling and skips in the main compound for this purpose||All earthworks material reused on site. All excavated spoil used for ballast, backfilling or landscaping works or will be deposited at agreed material on-site deposition areas|
|WEEE goods are collected on site for recycling off-site. All personnel are encouraged to bring all WEEE devices/items from home for recycling free of charge||All concrete waste is being/will be crushed and reused on site as general fill. Solidified concrete within designated concrete wash-out areas on site will be broken up for use as general fill|
|All water from excavations is treated on site to remove any suspended sediments by using an array of filtration and settlement techniques||Septic tanks are provided for waste water from the site toilets and is serviced on a regular basis by a licenced contractor (Walsh Waste)|
- Canteen waste segregated at source and collected by Walsh Waste for composting. • All used printer ink cartridges are boxed up and sent to local charities.
- All batteries are collected on site and sent to WEEE Ireland for recycling. €5 per box of batteries received from the site goes to the charity Laura Lynn Foundation.
- All timber/wood waste is either reused on site or placed in a dedicated timber skip to await collection by Walsh Waste.
- All dry recyclable waste sent off-site for recycling. Dedicated bins are provided in the courtyard for office recycling and skips in the main compound for this purpose.
- All earthworks material reused on site. All excavated spoil used for ballast, backfilling or landscaping works or will be deposited at agreed material on-site deposition areas.
- WEEE goods are collected on site for recycling off-site. All personnel are encouraged to bring all WEEE devices/items from home for recycling free of charge.
- All concrete waste is being/will be crushed and reused on site as general fill. Solidified concrete within designated concrete wash-out areas on site will be broken up for use as general fill.
- All water from excavations is treated on site to remove any suspended sediments by using an array of filtration and settlement techniques.
- Septic tanks are provided for waste water from the site toilets and is serviced on a regular basis by a licensed contractor (Walsh Waste).
- Water reduction measures including the creation of sumps adjacent to water crossings, where water bowsers can pump from, rather than from a mains source.
- A rainwater harvesting unit has now been incorporated into the roofed area constructed over the diesel tanks in main compound to provide ‘grey’ water to site toilets.
- Provision of four Eco Welfare Pods on site in place of traditional satellite canteens leading to a potential reduction of up to 75% less CO₂ emissions.
- Drinking water wells established at the Main Site Compound, rather than using mains water.
Galway Wind Park – outcomes and results
This site has a wealth of ecological and environmental value for the local area. Since the outset of the project, much care and attention has been given to the development of the site to minimise the impact of the project on the local environment.
The detail gathered at the environmental impact statement (EIS) stage has ensured an optimal design for the project and currently informs our construction methods. The long-term conservation plans along with responsible reinstatement works onsite following construction will ensure this site continues to add value to the area for many years to come.
Our commitment to the sustainable use of materials and energy as well as our focus on responsible waste management and reduction are ensuring this project is best in class for its construction. Additional biodiversity and habitat management measures further strengthen our drive to make this project sustainable both in its construction and long-term legacy to the area. The outcomes and results gathered to date show the current as well as long-term benefit to the area:
- An area of over 40ha of blanket bog has been enclosed by stock proof fencing to reduce the impact of sheep grazing and to facilitate habitat recovery and enhancement.
- The Kerry slug is protected under EU and Irish law. As a result, a survey and translocation exercise was carried out in order to protect the local population.
- Monthly monitoring of protected wintering wildfowl and breeding bird populations by site ecological team.
- Eradication of the non-native invasive Japanese Knotweed and Rhododendron onsite infestations by treatment and removal. All site personnel are made aware of their presence during induction and numerous toolbox talks and environmental quizzes.
- Monitoring of water levels in the peat surface. This practice allows us to investigate the impact of nearby construction on the hydrology of the bog.
- Promotion of biodiversity and awareness through inclusion of a “species of the month” in the monthly site newsletter, monthly toolbox talks, visits and presentations to local schools, a workshop for all site personnel with local Bird Watch Ireland Raptor Conservation Officer and an onsite biodiversity photography competition.
- Reinstatement and reseeding of borrow pits, access roads and turbine locations using locally harvested native grass and heather seed and reinstatement of acrotelmic peat turves.
The GWP development has several long term conservation and enhancement objectives including:
Ecological Long-Term Conservation and Enhancement Plans
|Blanket bog restoration works will be carried out on 233 hectares of bogland north and southwest of the site. These works will involve the blocking of drains, felling of coniferous trees so that native flora can re-colonise these wet heath areas. This will have a significant long-term benefit on the surrounding habitats, most notably Oughterard District Bogs NHA and the Connemara Bog Complex Special Protection Area and Special Area of Conservation|
|Native woodland planting and enhancement of salmon- and trout-spawning areas||A reduction and control of sheep grazing on approximately 40 ha of blanket bog habitat within the protected NHA that partially spans the site|
|An agreement between SSE and the landowners has been reached to cease the cutting and extraction of turf from the NHA for 25 years allowing recolonisation of remnant turf banks|
The Project Delivery Team at GWP – SSE and Coillte with Roadbridge – has demonstrated best practice through the pre-planning, planning and the current construction phase of this project in sustainable development through innovative construction methods, sustainable use of resources and a design that prioritises the needs of the wider environment and society.
Over the longer term, the green energy produced at Galway Wind Park will help to offset approximately 190,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year from fossil fuel generation, and provide electricity for up to 84,000 homes, which is equivalent to almost 90% of the homes in Co Galway. In this way, Galway Wind Park, as Ireland’s largest wind farm, will make a significant contribution towards greening our national energy and decarbonising power generation on the island.http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2016/07/12/galway-wind-park-sustainability/http://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Galway-Wind-Park.jpghttp://www.engineersjournal.ie/wp-content/uploads/2016/07/Galway-Wind-Park-300x300.jpgElecCoillte,energy,Galway,SSE,wind farm