UK WIND PIONEER HELPS TURBINES AGE GRACEFULLY
UK wind pioneer from the late 1980s Windcluster is exploring the possibilities of wind turbine life extension for its Vestas V52 turbines which have been operating at Haverigg, in Cumbria, since 2005.
Due to operating under relatively low stress conditions at the site and the provision of a good maintenance regime, the turbines are still in “excellent condition”, while Windcluster has gained the consents required to extend turbine life and keep the site operational for a further 15 years.
The landowners readily agreed to extend the existing lease, and the required planning consent was granted by Copeland Borough Council after it was unanimously approved by its members.
There are still four years until the turbines reach the end of their original life in 2025, ensuring there is time to carefully plan the management of the life extension.
The first step of which is to commission an engineering study of the remaining life, from which components identified for replacement or refurbishment can be considered.
At the same time, a condition monitoring system will be installed to determine the ongoing condition of the turbines components.
A baseline dataset will also be established from which future performance of key components can be closely monitored, and a preventative maintenance strategy developed.
Windcluster founder and managing director Colin Palmer said: “Back in 1988, when I founded Windcluster, people thought I was mad.
“Fossil fuels and nuclear power were their vision of the future, but they were wrong.
“Today Windcluster is part of a multi-billion pound global industry that is leading the charge to net zero.
“Thirty-three years ago, Windcluster was just an idea and wind energy was widely dismissed as a passing fad. Hard to believe now, but It was a huge struggle to raise money for the company when we built our first wind turbines in 1992. Undeterred, I managed to raise the money and support we needed to build our first project on a windy airfield in Cumbria, one of the first commercial windfarms in the UK.”
In 2004 Windcluster repowered the original turbines, and now those replacements are approaching the end of their original planned design life.
Palmer added: “Our turbines are in very good condition and were over-designed for the site conditions, so we are confident that they will run for long after their original life expectancy.
“Our challenge now is to work out for how long, and what we need to do to keep them performing at their best. If all goes well, they could still be turning in 2040, more than 50 years after Windcluster was originally founded.”