A coal-fired or nuclear plant can take a decade to build, but the construction of a wind farm can be completed in six months to a year. Here is a step-by-step look at the construction of a wind farm from the groundbreaking through power generation.
Step 1: The electrical contractors typically win contracts through a competitive bid process. Once on site, they wire job-site trailers, order materials, plan the work, create a schedule and hire workers.
Step 2: Once the developer and design team have identified the site for the turbines, the civil contractors build roads leading into the site, and the electricians begin digging trenches and burying cables for the underground collection system. The fiber-optic, ground, and SCADA system cables connect all the turbines to a central brain in the middle of a substation.
Step 3: The electricians work with the other trades to build the foundations for the wind turbines.
Step 4: The construction crew lifts the tower in three different phases, and the electricians and technicians connect each section electrically and mechanically. The electricians drop the control wiring or fiber-optic cables down the side of the tower through a cable tray.
Step 5: Once they have completed the wiring of the turbines and connected them to the substation, the utility then interconnects the substation with the grid.
Step 6: The developer tests the turbines, and the turbines begin generating electricity. At that point, the electricians turn the project over to the wind technicians, who are responsible for operating and maintaining the wind turbines.