Article

Mortenson Launches into Repowering Market

January 24, 2018

Mortenson’s Wind Energy Group is leveraging 23 years of installation and energy services experience to expertly repower wind assets for customers.  

Mortenson took on a significant challenge in 2017 to concurrently repower multiple sites in the upper Midwest.  The team successfully repowered over 270 turbines in approximately three months.  The project teams had to overcome considerable weather challenges including higher than normal winds and excessive rain.  Repowering is more crane intensive than new wind project installation, therefore more susceptible to weather related impacts.  The repowering projects employed approximately 350 craft workers and up to 14 main cranes at a given time across the three projects.  

Mortenson has gained valuable insights into effective strategies to meet repowering goals.  It is important for asset owners to recognize that the repowering process triggers many of the same requirements as with the original wind development.  We recommend initiating early communication with counties and states to address issues such as permitting requirements and road use agreements.  It is equally important to communicate with land owners well in advance of starting repowering activities. 
 
Early due diligence is recommended to ensure existing infrastructure is sufficient to support your repowering strategy.  Mortenson has performed due diligence on electrical systems and evaluating the needs for system upgrades.  Additionally, Mortenson crews have performed more than 200 foundation enhancements to support customer repowering efforts.

Repowering is a new market in the wind industry that was developed in 2016 as an extension to the production tax credit (PTC). The PTC gives owners the ability to qualify an existing facility for production tax credits by investing 80% of the fair market value of a given asset. This sparked a new market which is anticipated to include repowering 4,500 – 6,500 turbines over the next three years.

What are owners doing? There are multiple options to achieve the investment of 80% of the market value, however, the most common approaches are the following:

  • Replace the existing rotor with a larger rotor to increase the swept area, increasing the turbine's energy production
  • Replace select components utilizing today's technology to create more reliable turbines and reduce maintenance costs
  • Upsizing select components to increase the output of a turbine
  • Certifying turbines for another 20 years to increase the life expectancy of the asset

Overall benefits include increased annual production, increased availability, reduction of maintenance costs, additional PTCs and life extension of the project.

If you would like to discuss your repowering strategy, please contact Todd Bell by emailing him here, or by calling 763-287-5597.