Discussions followed with the Procurement Category Manager for Special Projects at TRM, who was keen to explore the possibility of wind turbine development, to substantially reduce the energy costs and the carbon footprint of TRM.
Infinite’s standard business model was to fully fund a wind turbine scheme; taking all the planning risk and then providing the finance to get the consented site to financial close and install the turbine. TRM expressed an interest in providing the funding for the scheme once planning was obtained, and Infinite and TRM agreed to work together in partnership on the project.
The original planning application was for a 100m tall wind turbine. The turbine of choice was a Vestas V80. The local Planning Authority (LPA) had concerns about many environmental aspects of the development such as the impact of noise and ecology, which were investigated, and mitigation solutions were found. The major issue was however visual impact which the LPA was struggling to overcome and was on the verge of refusing the application on these grounds.
At a last-ditch meeting with the LPA to try and resolve the visual impact issue, Infinite suggested that rather than trying to lower the visual impact, it might be beneficial to create something that people would want to see. Infinite suggested that painting the turbine in the colours of a daffodil (the national flower of Wales) could create an iconic landmark, similar to ‘The Angel of the North’ and ‘The Daffodil of the South’ was born. The LPA were keen to support the Daffodil concept as an attraction to tourism and TRM agreed that the Daffodil could help to publicise the proposed visitor centre. The Daffodil is a world’s first and as well as contributing to the energy and sustainable improvements of TRM, it should generate considerable media coverage and interest for TRM visitor centre and Rhondda Cynon Taff tourism.
The Daffodil was consented in June 2016, but an objection was then received from NATS at Cardiff Wales Airport because of potential disruption to the Airport Radar signal. This prompted a 12-month search for an acceptable solution. Many mitigation measures were proposed and rejected and numerous meetings with NATS and Cardiff Airport proved unsuccessful. Eventually, by commissioning a number of aviation studies and reports, Infinite was able to convince NATS to allow the turbine to proceed at a much-reduced tip height of 59.75m
In order to achieve the required tip height and install a turbine of sufficient generating capacity to justify the investment, Infinite identified a second hand 850 kW wind turbine operating in the Netherlands that had been specifically developed with a shortened tower. The Vestas V52 still had a tip height of 61.5m which meant that the turbine site had to be substantially excavated to maintain the tip height of 59.75m AGL (above ground level). This required specialist civil engineering design to enable the installation to proceed.
The turbine was acquired, fully refurbished and sprayed with a specialist coating in the colours of a daffodil and the groundworks started on site in June 2018 – over four years since TRM and Infinite had formed the partnership to develop the turbine.
Despite the numerous hurdles faced with this challenging project, working closely with the Procurement Category Manager for Special Projects and the team at TRM has eventually paid off. The Daffodil will hopefully become an iconic landmark, contributing 6-8% of the energy demand of TRM and saving c467 tonnes of CO2 emissions every year to enable TRM to move closer to its environmental objectives and position The Royal Mint as the ‘greenest’ Mint in the world.
The recently installed Vestas V52 “Daffodil” wind turbine (painted in the colours of the national flower of Wales) designed, supplied and built by Infinite Renewables Ltd. for the Royal Mint at their site in Llantrisant, South Wales. [Credit: Stuart Jackson, One Vision Photography].