Reaching new heights, creating new records
Setting the scene
Over ten years ago, we set a precedent on the American continent with the Snyder wind project when we developed and constructed 21 Vestas V90 3.0 MW turbines with a hub height of 105 meters.
While such hub heights were relatively common in Europe back then, there wasn’t a single commercial scale wind farm in the Americas higher than 80 meters. And to this day, Snyder still has the tallest hub height of any commercially built wind farm in the US.
Meeting the Challenge
Back in 2006, oil and gas was the sole Texan resource and awareness of wind generation was virtually non-existent. As pioneers, we had to educate local stakeholders about the benefits of wind and renewable energy.
The local wind resource supported reaching higher limits due to a favourable shear factor. Calculations showed that the cost increase of building higher, would be outweighed by the exponentially higher output.
A completely new tower design had to be engineered. Its sheer size posed some major construction and logistical challenges. Only four suitable cranes were available in the US which meant sourcing an 800 ton crane from Mexico.
Foundations, crane pad and road design all had to be completely rethought. Manufacturing of the towers, crane availability and other long lead items all had to be expertly coordinated to meet contractual milestones.
Getting the result
Arguably, the true testament for succeeding in the world of development is obtaining the funding to see a project realised. For Snyder, funding came from one of the world’s largest utilities, Enel. Within only four weeks, Enel was convinced and committed to fund over $100 million to build the project, which they now own.
Since Snyder came online in 2007, it has paid millions of US dollars to local constituents who then invested into their future with new county schools, buildings and hospitals. In that same time, Texas has become the poster child of the US renewable energy boom with wind leading the way.
Snyder represents a landmark in the history and the future of wind generation in the US.
Over the past decade, we have seen a tremendous amount of progress in technology and market growth. I believe that our industry will continue to expand. The key is to build quality projects that generate attractive returns, which in turn will attract more capital.