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Extending the life of assets is a key consideration for clients, Head of Innovation and Optimisation – Karen Anne Hutton discusses how RES’ operational services are adding value.
As some of the early onshore wind farms across the UK and Ireland reach the end of their operational life, we enter an exciting time for the industry. Decommissioning wind farms at the end of their life is not an option. The IPCC is very clear - we need to limit temperature rises to 1. 5 °C to prevent the most catastrophic effects of climate change. As onshore wind represents the lowest cost to consumer and supports decarbonisation, this offers a great opportunity for extending the life of an asset through repowering, replanting, life extension and refurbishment.
Each project is unique and the decision to repower, replant, life extend and/or refurbish is highly project specific, driven by the site constraints and economics. At RES we know this from experience - recently extending the life of Cark Wind Farm in Ireland to 30 years and repowering Souleilla-Corbières Wind Farm in France.
The argument to consider repowering or extending the life an operational wind farm is much stronger when a wind farm performs well and has good availability. Good asset management and O&M practises cannot be underestimated.
The decision to repower, replant, life extend, refurbish or even decommission, will be decided based on which option delivers the most value to the client. One of the key challenges when considering end of life options is timing. It takes years to develop onshore wind projects and repowering is no different. Recent changes in standards, regulations, policies and best practice guidelines need to be considered when reviewing the options for a site. In some cases, these changes could increase the constraints on site and impact on the options available. As an industry we therefore need to start thinking now about repowering our older wind farms and to help give us more time to consider the options available to us, we need to start extending their lives today.
RES offers a lifetime extension for clients – using desk-based analysis and an appropriate level of onsite inspections to determine firstly whether it is possible to extend the life of a wind farm, and secondly the O&M schedule and any remedial works required to extend the wind farm life. One of the key challenges the industry faces with lifetime extension is the availability of historical data. Where records such as site conditions, maintenance records, design and as-built documentation are missing, this can increase the uncertainty in the analysis. RES is able to support clients manage additional uncertainty with inspections and external measurements.
Asset optimisation is to RES the epitome of “doing more with less”. It is about making the most of an operational wind farm and maximising its value for our clients. There are a number of ways in which this can be done. For some sites it is possible to increase revenue through increasing yield and/or reducing downtime through proactive upgrades and major component replacements. For all sites, it is possible to avoid lost revenue and reduce operational costs through good Asset Management and O&M practices.