Should I repair or replace a wind turbine
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Wind turbines – to repair or replace?

The previous winter left energy suppliers struggling as relentless storms thrashed wind turbines, causing widespread damage. World-record winds and rainfall exacerbated the situation, leading to breakdowns occurring years before the turbines’ expected lifespan. Now, energy suppliers face a critical choice: repair or replace.

Wind turbine replacement

As with all electro-mechanical assets, a wind turbine will inevitably breakdown. The average wind turbine life cycle depends on the original manufacturer (OEM) but is generally considered to be between 25 and 30 years. However, this estimate does not account for life-extension efforts or premature breakdowns.

For farms to optimise production, it is beneficial for operators to schedule replacements to ensure a smooth transition. Since it will take 18-24 months to build a wind turbine, proactive planning allows the OEM to begin manufacturing the turbine well in advance.

A new wind turbine promises years of high productivity with minimal maintenance. Although it requires a significant investment in new materials and expertise, its long-term benefits should prove worthwhile, provided it meets its expected lifecycle.

The cons of replacing a wind turbine

Replacement can be a smooth process when planned, but premature breakdowns complicate matters. Due to the lengthy timeframe required to manufacture a wind turbine, energy suppliers seeking an emergency replacement must endure prolonged waiting times, potentially leading to inactivity for up to two years.

An illustrative example occurred in 2023 when the primary energy provider in the Faroe Islands approached us after five of its wind turbines unexpectedly shut down. The impact on the supplier was significant, leaving them with the daunting prospect of replacing all five turbines.

Our wind turbine repair service offered a solution, which was completed on one of the turbines within six months. The repaired turbine was now capable of surpassing its expected lifespan. Yet, opting for replacement would have extended the process by a year, further burdening the energy provider.

The replacement of a wind turbine is already a costly process, but it becomes even more financially burdensome when compounded by two years of lost production. Thankfully, we helped avoid this in this scenario.

Wind turbine repair

Our approach involved conducting a thorough repair and life extension on the turbine, addressing critical components such as the motor, generator, blades, main shaft and hub.

We successfully completed the wind turbine repair in just six months and reduced downtime by 66.6%. Our efforts restored the asset to its original condition and even extended its expected lifespan, promising optimal performance for years to come.

In this scenario, repairing the wind turbine proved to be 39% more cost-effective than replacing it. The savings extended the operational lifespan of the wind turbine, adding years of optimal performance at a significantly lower price mark.

Asset repair presents an unexpected yet impactful avenue for businesses to mitigate emissions. According to a comprehensive report by Newcastle University, repairing assets after ten years, rather than replacing them, can decrease associated GWP by 40.9% for motors and 37.4% for generators.

Although maintenance, repair, and life-extension are essential for wind farms to operate efficiently, there inevitably comes a time when replacement becomes the most viable option. Reputable services, such as ours, will deliver a thorough assessment and offer an honest evaluation of the asset’s condition.

Why repair is the way forward

Due to the scarcity of specialised project management, wind farms are often compelled to rely extensively on replacements, whether scheduled or in emergencies. This dependency represents a significant risk within the industry – especially as climate-induced breakdowns increase due to climate change.

These breakdowns place additional pressure on original equipment manufacturers (OEMs). And without a scheduled plan, a breakdown exacerbates delays in an already time-sensitive and backlogged process.

End-to-end wind turbine repair services must become a viable alternative for wind farms to advance the industry in a sustainable and advantageous direction. Our service provides comprehensive expertise from start to finish for onshore wind turbines, saving suppliers both time and money.

We encourage wind energy suppliers experiencing shutdowns to contact us for assistance. With over four decades of expertise in electro-mechanical repairs, life extensions, and maintenance services, we are well-equipped to offer full project management throughout the entire service.

Ready to optimise your wind energy infrastructure? Contact us today.

Wind Turbine Generator Repair

Our specialised repair services address issues within wind turbine generators ensuring optimal functionality.

Hub & Main Shaft Refurbishment

Trust our expertise in refurbishing hubs and main shafts, enhancing structural integrity.

Rotor Pole Shoe Manufacturing

Precision manufacturing and replacement of rotor pole shoes, a crucial component for generator performance.

On-site electric motor testing

Testing and Diagnostics

Our testing and diagnostic services utilise cutting-edge technology to identify potential issues.

Project Management

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Research & Development

Stay at the forefront of industry advancements with our ongoing research and development initiatives.

Engineering Consultancy

Expert guidance on optimal solutions, system integration, and overall wind farm performance enhancement.

3D Design & Reverse Engineering

We also have 3D design reverse engineering capabilities to address obsolescence, reduce lead times and improve performance.

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