In 2018, there are approximately 340,000 wind turbines operating around the world. The lifespan of a typical wind turbine is twenty to twenty-five years. Wind farms built in the early 2000s may soon be decommissioned in the next few years.
Repowering is the process of replacing or updating wind turbines at existing wind farms. Repowering is accomplished by replacing older turbines with fewer, higher capacity turbines or updating turbines with new, more efficient components. In the United Kingdom, approximately sixty onshore wind farms have been operating over twenty years. A repowering program in the United Kingdom could increase wind capacity as much as 1,700 MW.
The average age of wind turbines in the United States and Canada is only twelve years. However, repowering has already begun at some of the older wind farms in the United States. The first Sweetwater wind farm began operation in 2003. The operator of the wind farm, Leeward Renewable Energy recently completed the repowering project. The repowering included significant updates on all the GE 1.5 S wind turbines. The repowering project will increase power capacity, operating efficiency and the lifespan of the wind turbines.