A total of 65 gigawatts (GW) of European onshore wind turbine capacity will reach end-of-design-life by 2028, according to global energy consultancy Wood Mackenzie's report on Monday.
The recent research estimates that from 2019 to 2028, an average of 4 GW of turbines per year that are reaching end-of-design-life will be lifetime extension (LTE) suitable.
"While upgrading components to extend the life of a turbine - the LTE option - is much cheaper than alternative options available, not all asset owners will choose to implement a LTE solution," according to Wood Mackenzie.
Commenting on the report, European Onshore Wind Lifetime Extension Outlook, Daniel Liu, Wood Mackenzie’s principal analyst, said the decision to extend the lifetime of turbines depends on strategies, project economics and site and turbine operating conditions.
According to the report, complete turbine re-powering is one of the solutions proposed to maintain the existing capacity of the European onshore wind turbine fleet.
"This involves the wholesale replacement of old turbines with new technology," the report stated.
"We have identified 42GW of turbines reaching end-of-life by 2028 that have a commercially available LTE solution," he added
According to the research, the leading onshore wind markets in Europe - Germany, Spain, the U.K and France – are unlikely to meet 2020 renewable energy targets.
"New regulation is needed to prevent wholesale removal of wind generation capacity," Wood Mackenzie warned.
- Risks of LTE
The report also suggested that the success of the LTE strategy requires balancing and mitigating a number of risks.
"Just under half of LTE-suitable turbines are situated on small or distributed project sites," Wood Mazkenzie stated, adding that these projects and supply chain economics mean that small and distributed sites are less ideal candidates for extensive turbine refurbishment and component upgrades as part of the LTE solution.
Asset owners can potentially operate these turbines beyond the original design lifetime with minimal upgrades if sufficient operating reserves remain.
LTE for onshore wind is still in its infancy. Upgrade packages offered for turbine classes are not a one-size-fits-all solution either, the report showed.
Liu also advised that it is too early to assess the operational longevity of turbines with an implemented LTE solution.
By Gulsen Cagatay