Understanding the Potential for Wind farm repowering and life extension
Repowering undoubtedly has the potential to extend the generation of renewable electricity beyond the expected life span of existing wind farms, helping us towards our 2045/2050 net-zero carbon targets.
The idea is simple: utilise existing wind farm sites and replace older, less powerful turbines with more efficient new models to extend life and, potentially, increase generation.
In doing so, we continue the important contribution of onshore wind to our renewable electricity supply well into a post-subsidy future. We also extend community benefits in terms of jobs and income in often rural areas where this contribution is important to the local economy.
What is a simple concept, however, can be complex to deliver.
Planning permission for many sites is time limited and a fresh planning application must be made for repowered sites. This is made more onerous by the starting point for visual impact being considered as the site before the construction of the original wind farm.
The potential for re-use of existing infrastructure may also be overstated. For example, foundations may have to be strengthened for larger turbines, access roads and transport routes may not be able to accommodate longer turbine blades. Similarly, grid connection capacity may not be sufficient for increased generation and reinforcement works may be required.
A second option may be to consider life extension. Life extension involves the replacement of certain components in the wind turbine to safely extend the operational life of the turbines, while maintaining the number of turbines, layout and physical characteristics. Such as hub and blade tip height. This may simplify planning, grid and access issues
Our wind consultancy team are already working with site owners to assess the pros and cons of each solution, working with these clients through the entire process to provide clear guidance and deliver a viable project.