December 5th, 2020 by Steve Hanley
There’s a new phenomenon sweeping the world of wind power — re-powering. Simply put, wind turbines today can generate quite a bit more electricity than they could a decade ago. The pylon that supports them really doesn’t care what kind of machinery is on top of it. Take down the old, put up the new, and enjoy the advantages of the most modern technology.
That’s what’s happening in Texas these days, where Clearway Energy Group has just finished re-powering the Langford wind farm, which was built in 2009. Now that its turbines have been replaced with state of the art equipment from GE Renewable Energy, its generating capacity has increased by more than 25% and its useful life has been extended by at least 10 years.
“Repowering Langford was a major investment in Tom Green, Schleicher, and Irion counties in Texas to extend the life of a project that provides power to thousands of businesses and families across the state,” Craig Cornelius, CEO of Clearway Energy Group, tells Renewable Energy Magazine. “Wind is a fast growing sector of The Lone Star State’s energy industry with a track record of delivering the clean, low cost, and reliable power that people expect. As we continue to serve that demand, projects like Langford embody the need for forward looking investments in transmission infrastructure so that everyone can access the lowest cost power available. There is no timelier moment to invest in Texas’s energy leadership and enable the workforce and economic benefits that transmission investments would create.”
The Langford wind farm located in Christoval, Texas is Clearway’s third re-powering project in the state. They completed an upgrade of the 161 MW Wildorado wind farm in February of this year and the 122 MW Elbow Creek wind farm in December 2019. Langford is interconnected with ERCOT and will generate enough electricity to power nearly 75,000 households each year. The re-powering project employed more than 200 construction workers.
“We’re very proud that our GE technology is being installed in a Clearway project as our re-powering partnership continues to grow,” says Dylan Reeves, head of onshore Americas service and sales for GE Renewable Energy. “These re-powering projects are spurring job creation and local investment in the economy, while substantially increasing the production and extending the life of wind sites providing clean, affordable energy. We’re happy to be a part of this important initiative.”
GE Renewable Energy is on a bit of a roll lately. Its Haliade-X 13 MW turbines have been chosen to power the UK’s new Dogger Bank Wind Farm and Vineyard Wind, the first large scale offshore wind project in the US. The GE turbines are so powerful that Vineyard Wind now says it can reduce the number of towers in the project from 84 to 62 while obtaining the same amount of electricity.
Tim Maag, the general manager of Mortenson, the construction company that replaced the aging turbines at the Langford site, says, “As North America’s fleet of wind turbines age, re-powering has become an important and cost-effective way to maximize a wind farm’s potential.” The National Renewable Energy Laboratory estimates that annual re-powering investments could reach $25 billion by 2030 in the US.
We tend to focus a lot on advances in solar panel technology but overlook the fact that new technologies are making wind turbines more powerful and more affordable all the time. That’s good news for the Earth, which desperately needs all the renewable energy it can get.
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