A Cumbrian wind farm has been given consent to keep the site operational for a further 15 years.
The current Vestas V52 turbines were installed at their Haverigg site by Windcluster in 2005 and were originally designed for a 20-year lifespan.
However, 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, and the directors have successfully gained the consents required to extend the life of the turbines 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 Council after it was unanimously approved by its members.
Colin Palmer, founder and managing director 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, which makes this the right time for the team to chart a new course for the future and become pioneers of wind turbine life extension.
Colin 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.”
There are still four years until the turbines reach the end of their original life in 2025, ensuring there is ample 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.