The wind energy industry looks to be making a major shift, according to data in our new Renewable Energy Leadership Series study “The 40-Year Turbine.” Now that the industry has begun to mature, owners and operators are beginning to face the challenge of turbines that are coming to the end of their design lives in a real way, and are turning to more proactive strategies to increase both ROI and the lives of existing turbines. The results of our survey indicate that these strategies rely on collecting more data.
“The industry is evolving into more predictive, proactive maintenance,” said Mortenson Wind executive Todd Bell. Mr. Bell noted that owners are “starting to install all these maintenance processes to collect data so they can start forecasting failures, to avoid having (unexpected) catastrophic failures.” This data is helping the industry at a time when critical decisions are being made.
As technology evolves, the strategies for prolonging turbine life are shifting at every level, from owners to manufacturers and EPCs. Standardization in parts and procedures as a way to extend turbine life appears as a recurrent theme in the study, as does the most significant challenge facing the industry, a challenge that has nothing to do with equipment or technology. Bell noted that “the largest challenge that folks face in this industry is finding, retaining, and developing qualified technicians.” How the industry responds will certainly drive the future of wind energy.