Given their massive size, it’s logical to think that a wind turbine will last forever. Unfortunately, even a wind turbine won’t last forever. Wind turbines, as with any form of technology, are not designed to last indefinitely. As technology improves, today’s wind turbines have a longer life span than they have in the past. However, they still have a finite duration, which is something that consumers and manufacturers must take into consideration when installing wind-powered systems. If you’re thinking of getting a wind turbine or have one already, here are a few basic facts to know about the lifespan of a wind turbine and the factors that contribute to a turbine’s longevity.
Factors that affect a wind turbine’s life span
If you have installed a wind-powered system, the installer can provide more specific information about how long your wind system should last. The average lifespan of a turbine in today’s market is 20 years. With the right conditions, however, a turbine can last up to 25 years. Many factors contribute to a turbine’s longevity, including its location and the quality of components used for its construction. A turbine that is regularly maintained will last much longer than one that isn’t, too.
What influences a turbine’s lifespan?
As with other mechanical equipment, wear and tear is the primary reason for a wind turbine’s ultimate collapse. Wind turbines aren’t likely to last more than 25 years because of the extreme conditions and harsh environments that they are forced to endure. Even with regular maintenance, wind turbines are exposed to strong winds, cold temperatures, and hot summers. All of these environmental factors contribute to a shorter lifespan. Another influencing factor is the wind turbine’s shape. The main components of a turbine are its tower and blades. Both structures are only fixed at one end, which means they are subjected to the full force of a wind gust. The power associated with a single gust of wind translates to a higher load on the turbine. At most, this pressure can be 100 times the design load given for the rated wind speed. For this reason, wind turbines must shut themselves down when winds exceed a certain speed. When a turbine or its components break, they can simply be replaced with replacement parts or a replacement turbine.
Factors to consider when installing a wind turbine
Before you decide to install a turbine, you’ll want to consider several factors. To start, it helps to take a wind site self-assessment survey. Even before contacting a wind power installer, this step can save a consumer time and money. Answering a few basic questions can help you determine if you’re a good candidate for wind power. At most, the survey should take less than 20 minutes to complete. Some questions you might encounter in the study are:
- What is your estimated wind speed?
- How close (proximate) are the closest properties?
- Are there access sites and approach roads nearby for maintenance?
- What is your local connection with the grid?
Once you have a wind power feasibility study, you can contact a wind power provider. Assuming your property is conducive to wind power generation, an installer can help you take the next steps in finding a turbine size and design that meets your power production needs. An installer can also give you more detailed information about a turbine’s expected lifespan based on your local conditions. Wind turbines may be serviced by a third party instead of the original installer. If that’s the case, the installer will provide the name of the maintenance provider, who can help you out with servicing the turbine and finding additional replacement parts if needed.