In 2013, one of the country’s largest growers and distributers of fresh produce, Meade Potato Company, set about decreasing its hefty electricity bill. After some research, the company Enerpower was commissioned to supply, build and maintain a 300kW wind turbine on the Meade farm.

The project only took one-and-a-half months to complete, the longest part being 28 days waiting for the cement foundation to harden.

Picture 1 and 2

Over €40,000 worth of groundwork took place on the farm. This included pre-work excavation, base steel, trenching and concrete, but excluded labour. Almost €20,000 of electrical connections were used in the project, with most going underground to the control building, 650 metres away from the turbine. Picture 2 shows the concrete being poured – 258t was used for the foundation, or the equivalent of 15 concrete trucks.

Picture 3

The turbine arrived 28 days after concrete was poured to allow for curing. The Nordtank turbine is 30 metres high and has a blade diameter of 30 metres also. It came from Denmark and can produce 300kW per annum. The tower weighs in excess of 20t while a single blade weighs nearly 1.5t. Special roadways may be required to be made depending on the location of the turbine, to avoid sinking due to heavy vehicles.

Picture 4

Erection of the wind turbine took place over five days. Tower segments were unloaded and assembled using two cranes – one to lift and the other to steady. The nacelle was then attached to the top of the tower. Two blades were attached to the rotor before being lifted and attached to the nacelle; then the last rotor blade was lifted and attached.

Picture 5

In front of the finished turbine are, from right to left, Meade Potato Company general manager Robert Devlin, Owen Power of Enerpower, Meade Potato Company owner Phillip Meade and James Brennan of Enerpower.

The construction ended up costing €300,000 in total and will produce between €40,000 and €60,000 worth of electricity per annum. Due to the high energy demand of processing and refrigeration in the business, Meade Potato Company had an annual electricity bill of over €250,000. With a yearly operation cost of €3,000 (maintenance) included, the company expects to have the turbine paid off in six years. Life expectancy of the turbine is 25 years and it requires two maintenance visits per year.