Repowering Existing Wind Turbines to Achieve Longer Lifespan and Better Performance

Link: EIA
UNI: js5079 (Joshua Strake)

Sustainability Topic: Energy

This article touches on an important principle of ‘smart’ management of capital and resources within a generation blend, best exemplified by the classic saying, “if it ain’t broke… you still might be able to fix it.”

Summary

  • The EIA presents the value to be achieved in ‘repowering’ turbines, which is to say, upgrade them with newer, cheaper and more efficient technology while keeping the same turbine location, foundation, frame, etc.
  • This extends the life of the turbine by up to 20 years and can boost their efficiency by 25% (on average)
  • This is incentivised by the extension of the PTC (Production Tax Credit) for renewables, which applies to not only new renewables construction, but also renewables projects where at least 80% of the value is new construction: repowering often falls into this tranche so companies will elect to upgrade their wind fleet while saving on taxes.
    • GE has repowered up to 300 turbines for clients, and was recently awarded a contract for up to 700 more. Growth in this area is expected.

Stakeholders

-Wind Power Installers and Contractors
-Turbine Owners
-Regions and ISOs with wind power presence
-Consumers of electricity served by repowered turbines

Deployment Steps

1 – Continue to repower turbines with the most efficient modern turbine technology

2 – Look to incentivize all turbine owners to repower and claim PTC benefits, perhaps by raising awareness of the program.

3 – Look into writing specific policy to further incentivize repowering, such as state tax credits and rebates for contractor fees.


Comment on Another Post: Offshore Wind Power
This is a great writeup of the benefits of offshore wind farms compares to onshore. One thing I would add is that there is a two-way street in terms of aesthetics and landscape: while less homeowners may object to the wind turbines being near their homes, there is still strong pushback from ocean life activists regarding sea floor damage, as well as people who oppose the sight of wind turbines in the ocean – this is why the Cape Wind project from a million years ago has still not gotten construction underway.
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