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GE tallies 4GW of US repowering projects as market booms

OEM says market showing ‘robust demand’ for life-extending turbine swaps that can add 20% AEP

GE Renewable Energy has completed over 4GW of repowering projects in the US in the last two years, with expectations it will add another 3GW-worth to this tally by 2020, reflecting a “robust demand” for the service, the OEM says.

The operational life-extending work, which represents some 2,500 turbine replacements, has ranged over 36 different wind farms run by developers including NextEra, E.ON and MidAmerican Energy. Another 25 projects for 11 developers are in the pipeline through to the end of the decade.

Is repowering still the best kiss of life for old wind farms?

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“Repowering existing wind turbine technology is a complex endeavour, requiring the ability to blend new technology and equipment with ageing machines,” stated Vikas Anand, CEO of GE’s Americas Onshore Wind businsess unit.

“GE has the engineering, design and financing expertise to do that in a way that enables them to generate the maximum amount of renewable energy from each wind turbine in existence in the most economic manner possible.”

Repowering involves swapping out older turbines with new, higher capacity units, or retrofitting them with more efficient components to drive up output and extend a wind farm’s operational life.

By GE’s calculus, its recent wind farm repowering projects have translated into a 20% increase in annual energy production and 1.5% availability boost compared to pre-repower performance.

Repowering orders are expected to help soften the blow to the US onshore wind sector that is expected as the production tax credit ends in 2021, with the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimating the repowering market could grow to be worth $25bn by 2030.

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