Why repowering wind farm replacing old turbines makes sense

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Some of the wind power companies are investing in repowering their farms by spending on new wind turbines since 38 GW of onshore wind capacity in Europe is reaching the end of its normal operational life of 20 years between now and 2025.

When first generation wind farms reach 20 years, the main options for wind power companies are lifetime extension, decommissioning or repowering.

Repowering a wind farm means replacing the old turbines by more efficient models that use the latest technology. On average repowering more than doubles the generation capacity (in MW) of a wind farms and triples the electricity output because the new turbines produce more power per unit of capacity.

It achieves this while reducing the number of turbines on average by 27 percent. “We expect more than 20 GW of onshore wind farms will be repowered in the next 10 years,” Wind Europe said in a news report on wind industry.

Windplan Groen project in the Dutch Province of Flevoland will replace 90 turbines out of 98 turbines with a total capacity of 168 MW. This replacement will take the total capacity of the wind power farm to around 500 MW. Vestas, the # wind turbine maker, will install 37 turbines of 6 MW each for the wind power project in the Netherlands.

A wind farm in Malpica in Galicia in Spain has reduced the number of turbines from 69 to 7 and doubled electricity output.

The report said fewer than 10 percent of wind turbines reaching the end of their life are currently being repowered. Operators are discouraged by the slow and complex permitting procedures and changing legislation. Instead most of the onshore wind farms reaching 20 years today get a lifetime extension.

The EU’s Renewable Energy Directive requires permit decisions for repowering to be taken within one year of application. But most countries do not meet that deadline. It is time for Governments to put in place clear repowering strategies to fix this. Governments need to recognize that repowering is a powerful tool.

WindEurope CEO Giles Dickson said: “Projects such as Windplan Groen and Malpica show how big an impact repowering can have. But permitting for repowering is just way too slow and complicated right now. Governments need to change their approach and facilitate repowering by drastically simplifying the permitting procedures.”