In the beginning we decided we were going to design a
business based around wind farms. This is how we came up with the idea for
Irish Wind Farms ltd. The idea behind the company is that towns and communities
in Ireland could come together and fund wind turbine projects for themselves
that they would benefit from directly, rather than have the turbines feed the
main grid. They would pay together for the installation, somewhere between 1000
euro and 2000 euro per household, which seems like a lot but over time would
pay off. Of course the towns would still have access to the grid in case of any
failure, but using the main electrical grid would incur separate costs.
We settled on wind farms as our business model as
renewable energy is a growing industry in the country and the world and will
likely become the number one source of electricity in the world over the next
twenty years. Our model for growing the business included starting out small,
with limited projects but over time we would build up a reputation and move
onto small towns and villages. To begin with, our installations would likely
only add to the existing electrical framework in the area, but over time we
hoped to move onto larger projects, which would greatly reduce the cost of
electrical bills for our customers.
Our main aim is to grow the business over the course
of five to ten years to become the largest installer of wind farms in the
state. We were hoping by breaking into this sector at this time, we would
pre-empt the vast number of firms that we envisage will want to get involved in
this sort of business in years to come. Part of our plan to grow the company
was to partner with a wind turbine manufacturer and have them produce turbines
solely for our group, while we would also only install their turbines. Using
this method we had hoped that we could market both of our companies to
potential customers and investors. We predict that over time with the
increasing popularity of renewable energy, the materials and equipment we use
will fall in price to facilitate cheaper installations for our customer base.
While forming our limited company we will have many
objectives, including capital, man power and transport. We believe a loan of
100,000 to 150,000 euros would be enough to get us started and then once we
secured our first project we could begin to stabilize our finances and pay our
debt. In terms of manpower, we imagine it will be the four of us, the founders
of Irish wind farms ltd, along with a small number of electricians and
apprentices in the beginning but that will grow substantially as we take on
larger projects. As the scale of the jobs grow, it will be necessary to employ
engineers and quantity assessors etc. For transport we will be able to use our
four vans for the time being however this will not suffice as demand for the
service grows and we are required to carry more and heavier equipment. When we
move onto larger installations it will be necessary to hire out trucks and
trailers for transport of the turbines and towers. This will require dealing
with local councils and the like to secure routes to our sites as these
components can be quite awkward to move from place to place.
We intend to use the internet extensively to market
our company to as many potential customers as possible, doing so by using our
own website and by advertising on social media. We will also travel to trade
shows to showcase our business model and raise awareness of our brand. It is
likely that we will also go door to door handing out leaflets. Most importantly
we intend to partner with a manufacturer of turbines to gather as many
customers as possible.
Once we gain some ground we hope to expand our scope of
marketing to include television, radio and the newspaper.
My idea to begin with was to form a company that would
install wind turbines and wind farms. Originally the group’s plan was to form a
company that would manufacture the turbines however we later decided that this
would be far too expensive an enterprise to undertake without prior experience
and also it would not be possible to gather the capital or manpower required.
In the end we agreed that we would begin by installing the turbines and once we
had gained enough business over the course of five to ten years, we would
establish a manufacturing base in Ireland for the equipment.
The other members of the group originally had some
differing ideas on what to base the business around. Two of the other members
had come up with the idea of using solar panels for our business model, however
we later agreed that wind turbines would provide better performance in a
country with weather like Ireland. The group was generally interested in
renewable energy so in that respect we were in agreement from the start.
We eventually all agreed on the proposed business
model of installing wind turbines and we each made some concessions. I also
agreed that the business would have to start out quite small if it were to gain
funding and survive. We also switched from wanting to sell our services to the
councils and the government and decided it would be a more interesting model if
we sold to the people in the local communities, meaning that they themselves
would own the farms and would benefit directly from them.
One of the members of the groups argued that we should
place the farms out at sea to avoid noise pollution and disruption to the
scenery, however we argued that this would defeat the purpose of the
communities investing in the scheme as they would likely be so distant that a
great amount of the electricity produced would be lost.
We finally agreed on the proposed model, which we all
believe is the most efficient and reliable model and the one most likely to
yield profitable results.
We believe if we begin with a small core of workers,
including ourselves and a small number of engineers and electricians and start
out with small projects, we will be able to grow the business over the course
of around five years to begin to commit to larger installations around the
country. We would require a number of vans to start with and any trucks or
trailers needed to transport the equipment could be hired. According to our
calculations, a loan of 150.000 to 200.000 euro would be more than sufficient
to get ourselves started.
Once we would begin to obtain more contracts, the four
of us would be able to take more of a directing role and take on more workers. We
would then be able to more concisely split up the operations of the company
between the four of us, one of us could take responsibility for the procurement
of materials, another for accounts and recruitment and so on and so forth.
In terms of evaluating our performance and customer
satisfaction, we intend to meet with customers possibly a year after
installation is complete and review the efficiency of the work done. If they have
any criticism of the system we would take it into account and improve their
system if necessary. We hope that over time we would be able to perfect our
method of operation and better understand how to tailor make our wind farms to
suit any community’s needs. We would also evaluate our progress by documenting
our accounts, as obviously if we are not profiting after a reasonable amount of
time, a year or two perhaps, some dramatic changes would have to be made. We
plan to make use of surveys, for both prior and potential customers, to gauge
interest and satisfaction with our service.
We will provide good quality and relatively affordable
wind farm installations to communities around the country with the aim of
lowering our customers’ electrical bills and further popularising renewable
energy in the state. The customers will be the communities themselves. In five
to ten years we would like to be the largest or one of the largest providers of
this kind of service in the country.
We hope to capitalize on this developing market by
providing privately funded wind farms to towns and communities. As there is a
surplus of highly trained and skilled tradesmen and technicians in the state,
we do not imagine we will encounter any manpower difficulties.
We believe that this concept will be very attractive
to communities as we will provide electricity at a greatly reduced cost and we
will endeavour to employ local workers whenever possible. We will also make a
great effort to place the farms in an area far from homes where noise pollution
will not be an issue and where the scenery will not be spoiled.
We believe it is very important that the country
switches from fossil fuels to renewable energy and we would like to lead the
way. We also believe the popularity of this industry is on the rise due to its
cost effectiveness and that many more people are becoming interested, which
will only benefit our company.
The goal is to begin operating before this type of
enterprise becomes more common, i.e. be the first or at least one of the first.
We hope that after five to ten years we would be large enough to start
producing our own turbines and therefore create jobs and add to the economy.