2 min

Kiwa Extends the Life of Wind Turbines

Wind power is no longer the "young challenger" in the energy industry. Many wind farms have now been in operation for a while and are starting to notice wear and ageing.

For plant managers, it's an increased challenge to ensure that the wind farms continue to produce renewable energy efficiently. This means that maintenance, inspections and upgrades are becoming increasingly important.

Maintenance strategies to extend the life of wind turbines

As wind turbines age, the risk of breakdowns and downtime increases as the constant load variations, as well as prevailing aging and degradation mechanisms, initiate defects and damage that over time grow in number and size. Through testing, inspection, monitoring and a well-thought-out maintenance program, a comprehensive strategy can be designed to maintain and, when the right conditions prevail, also be able to extend the originally planned life of the wind turbine and its parts, such as gearbox, generator, hub, wings and structural parts, consisting of towers, foundations, load-bearing structures in the nacelle, etc.

Repowering and lifetime extension of wind turbines

The typical lifetime of a wind turbine is 20-25 years, with up to 30 years for the newest turbines. What happens when maintenance costs start to rise, while technological developments lead to the launch of more and more efficient wind turbines? This is where repowering and extending the lifetime comes into play.

Both go hand in hand to a certain point. In the case of repowering, the entire turbine or parts of it can be replaced (e.g. with more efficient blades), but this may be limited by the nature of the permit process. Larger and taller turbine models in the same location where the permit applies can lead to public resistance regarding the risks of increased noise, more shade and visual impact. So, when repowering is not possible, extending the lifetime comes into play.

Optimisation of the life cycle of wind turbines with Kiwa's expertise

The technical life of wind turbines is affected by fatigue and other damage mechanisms. Kiwa helps to identify and manage issues related to the turbine's life cycle in a timely manner. Our team of experts has in-depth knowledge of technical life analysis, and has built up extensive experience in a number of industries in the lifetime management of complex production equipment over several decades.