Early Works, sometime also called Preliminary Works, Limited Notice To Proceed or something similar, are a common project strategy that is currently more frequent than ever before.
Basically, it means that some field works, engineering tasks and/or procurement activities are done before that the EPC contract enter into force.
EPC contracts have usually a long list of condition precedents to be fulfilled – basically things that should happen to give validity to the contract.
However, due to demanding planning and “hard” deadlines such as changes in the regulatory framework or a variety of other issues, it’s often difficult to wait for that point in time.
Additionally, negotiations can be longer than expected or problem with project finance closure are a reality in the majority of the developments.
Therefore Early Works are often the only chance to keep the project alive. Basically is a separate agreement between the customer and the contractor where both party acknowledge the situation and recognize that some tasks need to be performed immediately to keep the time schedule of the wind farm feasible.
It’s usually a “light” contract, a few pages highlighting the main terms and conditions. The content of the early works is obviously project specific.
Some activities that are frequently performed upfront are:
- Geotechnical investigations
- Foundation design
- Finalization of the internal layout
- Engineering and procurement of the main transformer
However, in the past I’ve seen a variety of tasks included in the Early Works, from the engineering of the substation to support to permitting for wind turbine transportation (in some countries authorities can be VERY slow).
I’ve also read of a wind farm in a very remote area with an Early Works package including an air runways, so as mentioned before the type of early works are dependent on the specific wind farm planning.