Wind Turbine Lifespan
Here is an article from 2012 where a prof Gordon Hughes is launching a frontal attack against wind power:
[dailymail.co.uk] – Wind turbines ‘only lasting for half as long as previously thought’
Wind turbines ‘only lasting for half as long as previously thought’ as study shows they show signs of wearing out after just 12 years… A study of almost 3,000 turbines in Britain – the largest of its kind – sheds doubt on manufacturers claims that they generate clean energy for up to 25 years, which is used by the Government to calculate subsidies… In Denmark, where wind power has been used for longer, the decline in output was less dramatic, which he said could be down to their smaller size and possibly better maintenance… His report for the anti-wind farm charity the Renewable Energy Foundation (KEEP), noted: ‘Onshore wind turbines represent a relatively mature technology, which ought to have achieved a satisfactory level of reliability in operation as plants age.
The British government is not impressed by the arguments put forward by Hughes:
A spokesman said: ‘Our expectations of wind turbine lifetimes are based on rigorous analysis and evidence. Britain’s oldest commercial turbines at Delabole in Cornwall have only recently been replaced after 20 years of operation, and the technology has come on leaps and bounds since that project started generating in 1991.
Professor Gordon who?
[scotsman.com] – No fracking ‘will lead to sky high prices’
The fracking debate has been hijacked by “political posturing” and could leave Scots stuck with sky high energy bills compared with other parts of the world, a leading economist has warned. Professor Gordon Hughes, a former world bank adviser, warned Scotland could be sleepwalking into key decisions over its energy future without a “genuine debate about reality rather than phantasms”.
Well, the good professor has a horse in this race and that is fracking. On top of that he formulated his opinions for an anti-wind platform.
So, what do the wind energy ‘paid shills’ have to say about Hughes study?
[ewea.org] – Study on turbine lifespan is “just more anti-wind propaganda”
The article does not really address the figures Hughes is giving. Instead they point at the anonymous peer review and that the professor has a history of being anti-wind and refers to the official British government pro-wind stance.
Here is a more detailed study that also addresses the findings of Hughes:
[sciencedirect.com] – How does wind farm performance decline with age?
We find the ageing effect to be present, but much smaller than predicted by Hughes, in line with experience of other rotating machinery… We find evidence of important, but not disastrous, performance degradation over time in a large sample of UK wind farms. When variations in the weather and improvement in turbine design are accounted for, we find that the load factors of UK wind farms fall by 1.57% (0.41 percentage points) per year.
[renewablesinternational.net] – Wind turbines for 40 years?
And here is a German wind power specialist saying that the official 20 years life span of a wind turbine is often related to the time of a permit and says nothing about the economic life span. Herr Romberg suggests that with proper maintenance wind turbines can operate for 40 years, not 10-15 years as Hughes suggests.
Editor: electricity generation with wind energy is a relatively new technology and there are hardly enough older turbines around to test the claim that these turbines have a life span of 20-25 years. As a rule technology improves with time, and modern turbines can’t be compared with the shabby machines produced 20 years ago. And as the professor indicates himself: maintenance is very important. And since wind in Denmark is not really that different from wind in the UK, longer life spans in Denmark must have to do with better maintenance. But if a commercial airliner, like a Boeing 747, can be operational for decades on end, spending more time in the skies than on the ground and having to deal with vastly higher wind speeds and stresses than wind turbines, than it is safe to conclude that mature wind power technology will be able to deliver turbine designs that can last decades as well.
As a reminder: the Eiffel tower has been around since 1889, that is 126 years. Yale estimates that the tower could last another 2-3 centuries. There is no reason to assume that steel wind turbine towers could not last a similar long time span. Here is an example of a Dutch windmill from 1458 or older and still works. In Havana there are almost exclusively cars around from the fifties and not even particularly well maintained. Maintenance is everything.
Century old T-Ford