Business - 22/October/2018

A new lease of life

Regulators and the wind industry are paying increasing attention to repowering existing wind farms to ensure prime wind sites continue to be exploited and renewable energy targets are met

As wind turbines near the end of their planned operational lives or their output is much reduced in comparison to modern turbines, operators must decide whether to extend the working life of existing machines through judicious component refurbishment or to “repower” existing sites by replacing old turbines with new units. While installing new turbines is generally more costly than reconditioning, the former has the advantage of being more powerful thanks to larger rotors, bigger generators and taller towers capable of reaching stronger winds and generating more revenue.

In Europe, repowering involves the complete replacement of turbines, including foundations, the turbine tower, electrical equipment and often the electrical cables. In most cases the old structures are replaced by fewer, bigger turbines, testament to significant increases in turbine sizes over the years. In just five years, the average rated capacity of wind turbines installed on land globally has grown from just under 2 MW in 2014 to 2.4 MW in 2018, as registered by FTI Consulting, a global intelligence business, in its Global Wind Market Update annual report. ...

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