A recent report, The Performance of Wind Farms in the United Kingdom and Denmark, indicated a shorter life for wind turbines than the predicted 20-year life. See March 5 article, Bad News for Wind Energy.
There is a wind farm in western New York State consisting of 67 turbines that have been in operation for around three years.
Recently there have been several units shut down while 10 blades were repaired. If each came from a different turbine it would mean the wind farm was producing 10% less electricity than planned while the turbines were out of service. It could also support the contention that the life of wind farms will be less than planned.
An engineer who worked with me at General Electric witnessed the repair work and provided pictures and a description of the repairs.
When cracks can’t be repaired by using a crane to hoist a repairman to where the damage can be repaired while the blades are attached to the tower, the 120 foot long blade is lowered to the ground.
Cracks like this are ground out. Then fiberglass is laid over the crack, with resin and more fiberglass added until the blade is restored to prescribed dimensions. The repairman then crawls inside the blade, by removing the bolted-on manhole cover, and repeats the process on the blade’s interior.
The process is much like repairing a fiberglass boat.
This picture provides a perspective on the size of the blade and the extensiveness of the crack.
The underlying issue is whether wind farms will last the predicted 20 years, and whether they will need constant remedial work.
Wind-generated electricity is already very expensive, and could become even more so.
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