From consent to construction: How to enhance your renewable energy projects in Central and Eastern Europe

Climate Change and Sustainability November 10, 2020

By Ferenc Kis, Business Development Director for renewable energy, RSK Europe

Central and Eastern Europe is on a journey towards net-zero carbon. Renewable energy sources such as wind, solar, biomass and geothermal technologies are helping to reduce carbon emissions across the region. Whether your renewable energy project will seek to supply electricity to homes and businesses or help to reduce carbon emissions generated by the combustion of fossil fuels, RSK can help you to enhance your project outcomes. This starts with the feasibility, planning and design stages, and continues right the way through the project life cycle.

Whatever technology your project uses, navigating the planning system can be a major headache. You will also want to consider how to optimise your processes, how to enhance your planning outcomes and how to deliver business advantages throughout the development cycle. Once you have started generating power, you might then need to think about environmental monitoring, inspection and repairs. RSK’s experts, who have decades of aggregated experience working in renewable energy development, can offer innovative and practical solutions, whether you are a renewable project developer or asset owner.

Origination

Finding the right site for your project and assessing its feasibility at an early stage is important in order to avoid potential problems later down the line. RSK understands the wider context of development decisions in site selection. Therefore, we can evaluate and identify options to overcome potential problems for proposed developments at an early stage. The issues and constraints considered could relate to, for example, planning, utility connections, transport infrastructure and access, and drainage. RSK can help you to complete a full technical feasibility study, including hybrid generation developments, and those relating to repowering and operational life extension.

Planning and consent

Applications for planning are increasingly complex in nature and can be difficult to navigate when it comes to negotiating and obtaining consents and permits. RSK can provide environmental impact assessment (EIA) and consenting support across a range of technologies including wind, solar PV, hydro and energy storage whether in isolation or as hybrid proposals, and from sub-megawatt to gigawatt sized capacities. We also have excellent relations with industry regulators and planning authorities throughout Central and Eastern Europe (in particular in Poland, Romania, Hungary and Turkey).

By identifying issues early, proposing feasible mitigation measures within the constraints of the proposed design and integrating the design, mitigation options and development proposals before the submission of the final environmental statement and authorisation documents, you can minimise planning and environment-related constraints.

Ecological strategy and biodiversity management of solar plants

Although solar power is often considered a low-impact energy generating method, several ecological aspects should be investigated as solar plants become larger and more visible. One of the central questions of energy transition is whether the optimal use of scarce land resources could be tackled together: climate protection, agriculture and nature conservation. There are an increasing number of studies concluding that photovoltaic systems on open spaces can have a positive effect on biodiversity, and RSK is supporting projects to create ecological value.

Design and construction

RSK acknowledges and appreciates the challenges that come from pressures on the levelized cost of energy (LCOE) of renewable energy developments. It is becoming ever more critical to focus on the optimisation of design from the outset of an energy development, from feasibility through consenting/permitting and beyond. The benefits of doing so include:

  1. Early recognition of the technical constraints and environmental risks associated with the proposed development and ability to design out, avoid, or suitably mitigate
  2. Increasing the likelihood of securing consent for the development
  3. Optimisation of energy production, whether that be through the refinement of the design of a single technology development or via co-location of technologies in a hybrid solution
  4. The potential for a project to be ‘ready to build’ on receipt of consent/permit
  5. Reduction in the potential need to adjust the design post-consent/permit, and resultant alteration to statutory conditions associated with the consent/permit
  6. Greater certainty in relation to the commercial viability and cost base of a development and thus for any application for commercial support, e.g. contracts for difference.  

This is central to RSK’s service provision and we can work with you to achieve these goals. Once consent is granted, we also have a significant suite of services that can be brought to bear to support the development construction. This ranges from geotechnical investigations, environmental monitoring and provision of ‘clerks of work’, through to consent conditions management.

Operation and maintenance

Whether it is environmental monitoring, inspection or repairs, RSK can assist you throughout the lifecycle of your project to help maximise its full potential.

With turbine blade inspection and repair services well-established in the UK, we can provide these services to other European countries. Through experienced local partners, following various local legislation, we can also offer unmanned aerial vehicle asset inspection: solar systems and wind turbines and blades or support high-resolution imaging, lidar, 3D scanning, multispectral imaging and HD video for project preparation or technical assessments.

EBRD and performance standards

RSK can also assist with provision of due diligence audits against international investor performance standards. For example, for various wind farms in Bulgaria, RSK has conducted audits of the ESIA against EBRD performance standards, Equator Principles, and International Finance Corporation performance standards. RSK produced the supplementary information report, the non-technical summary, the environmental management plan and the environmental and social action plan. We undertook subsequent bird and bat surveys and developed a project-specific environmental management system to the ISO 14000 standard.

Acquisition and disposal

And finally, at the end of your asset’s consented life, RSK has the required expertise to advise on the decommissioning and deconstruction of your technology. Using our accumulated experience in brownfield sites and industrial land, we can offer solutions for restoring your site and remediating it if necessary.

RSK has more than 30 years’ experience supporting the development needs of the energy, construction and engineering sectors, with local staff backed up by global expertise. You can find out more about RSK’s services for the renewable energy sector in Central and Eastern Europe in our brochure, here.
For more information, please contact Ferenc Kis.