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Wind Energy Developer
Wind energy is a safe, renewable energy source that provides an excellent alternative to fossil fuels used to generate electricity, such as coal and natural gas. Wind energy developers search out opportunities and appropriate sites to build large-scale wind energy developments. They also manage design, construction, and marketing of the product. Wind energy developers must not only understand the technical aspects of wind farms and energy generation, but also have strong negotiation and sales skills to broker deals with landowners, suppliers, and potential buyers.
At a glanceImagine you are standing on a gusty ridge looking up at nine giant wind turbines twice as tall as the Statue of Liberty. You are a wind energy developer and you put this wind farm here. Each turbine is over 94 metres tall and has three 40-metre-long rotor blades. Together, these turbines generate enough electricity to power 20,000 homes. This wind farm was your project you made it happen. As a wind energy developer, you have spent your career searching out suitable locations for wind farms and building a market for wind energy. This project started years ago, when you first visited the location and approached the farmer who owns the land, asking to install wind-monitoring equipment to record the site's wind characteristics. You also used meteorological data for the area to calculate longer-term wind averages. Another factor to consider was the amount of transmission infrastructure that would be needed, so you mapped the proximity of existing transmission lines that you could tap into. Once you had determined this was a viable site for a wind farm, you offered the farmer a lease agreement to compensate him in exchange for permission to build the turbines. With the land secure, you hired a company to conduct a feasibility study and an engineering firm to pre-design the facility. Next, you had to find a buyer for your potential wind energy, so you approached the province's biggest utility company. Normally the utility company buys energy from the cheapest source, which in your province is fossil fuels, but the utility company wanted to improve its environmental image, so it agreed to buy your wind-generated electricity. With a buyer in place, you hired more consultants to finish the design and arrange for permitting and environmental clearance for the project. Once everything was in place and you'd secured the necessary capital, construction began. Before too long, your wind farm was on the grid and lighting up nearby towns.
Job dutiesDuties vary significantly from job to job, but the following list includes typical job duties one might encounter as a wind energy developer:
- Research new wind energy opportunities.
- Obtain necessary provincial and municipal government approvals, for example development permits and environmental assessments.
- Perform commercial analyses and risk management analyses of wind energy developments.
- Liaise with government and private stakeholders, including making presentations to private landowners to present wind project opportunities.
- Negotiate and execute land rights agreements with landowners.
- Formulate specifications for construction contracts and tender contracts.
- Prepare capital investment proposals.
- Coordinate environmental assessment reporting.
- Maintain databases of stakeholder and supplier information.
- Foster and maintain positive relationships with landowners and other project stakeholders.
Work environmentWind energy developers work in a variety of locations, including: In the office:
- Negotiating with landowners and drafting lease agreements
- Researching new opportunities and technology
- Evaluating proposals and hiring contractors for different project components
- Communicating on the phone and in meetings with clients, colleagues, government officials, and stakeholders
- Making presentations to stakeholders, clients, contractors, and the public
- Visiting prospective and established sites
- Consulting with local planners and government officials
Where to workThere are a number of places wind energy developers can find employment. They include:
- Energy firms, including wind and alternative energy companies
- Federal, provincial/territorial, Aboriginal, and municipal government departments
- Environmental and engineering consulting companies
- Self-employed consultant
- Not-for-profit and non-governmental organizations
- Wind turbine manufacturers
- Trade associations
Education & requirementsIf you are a high school student considering a career as a wind energy developer, you should have strong marks or an interest in:
- Business and Commerce
- Communications and Marketing
- Civil Engineering
- Mechanical Engineering
- Regional Planning
- Renewable Resource Management