You could install solar power, which will produce more energy at less windy times of the year. Or you could install battery storage, enabling you to further overbuild your wind farm and store excess energy. This option is growing in popularity as battery costs plummet.
3. Extending life
Wind turbines have traditionally been designed for a 20-year lifespan. Why shouldn’t they be designed to last 25 or 30 years, reducing their overall lifecycle cost and enabling them to go on producing revenue for longer? Life extension is an area we’re increasingly advising clients about, as it can help to make a wind farm viable.
To understand if extending the life of your wind farm is a good option, you need to ask some questions. What is the current state of your asset? If it’s still on the drawing board, what criteria are you designing it against? What are the critical components?
For example, the gearbox or rotor blades may be the limiting factor rather than the foundation or tower. Or maybe data analysis of the designed, expected and actual loads experienced by the wind turbine generator would show that, with careful operation and maintenance, it could carry on for several more years.
Other questions include: Will the wind farm and its technology be redundant in 20 years? What will the future market be like? Power purchase agreements tend to run for only 15 years, and future grid requirements may be very different.
These are the sorts of questions our life-extension team are now helping clients to examine. In conjunction with maximising grid connection potential and reducing capital expenditure, the answers can help make the sums add up for onshore wind farms.