Repowering will represent nearly half of all new wind capacity in 2024

A new report by Enverus Intelligence Research indicates that half of all wind projects installed in 2024 could be repowering projects, where developers refurbish established wind facilities to increase power production, and most importantly, requalify for lucrative federal subsidies.

A summary of the report states:

“In this environment of rising costs, a wind repower has significant upside over a new build and developers are starting to take notice,” said Scott Wilmot, vice president at EIR. “More developers are opting to repower instead of building new wind plants in an effort to reduce capex and operations and maintenance costs, and boost power production. Repowering can often be done under existing premium-priced power purchase agreements (PPAs) that have remaining term. Given the status of the aging wind fleet and the turbine efficiency gains that have been achieved, we expect repowering momentum to continue in the U.S. going forward.”

“Depending on PPA price, repower economics can be preferable to a new build if a 5% capacity factor gain can be realized. This is a low benchmark to clear given the turbine efficiency gains and degradation we have observed. Projects older than 12 years (pre-2012 vintage) can realize capacity factor gains of 10%-20% through a repower — this makes repowering an easy economic decision,” Wilmot said.

For the record, Americans are frequently told that wind turbines will last 20 to 25 years, not the 12 years that Enverus Intelligence Research suggests it will be economically attractive for wind owners to repower their facilities.

Data from the U.S. Department of Energy shows that the wind facilities partially repowered in 2021— totaling 1.6 GW of capacity, down from 3 GW in 2020 — ranged in age from 9 to 16 years old, with the median age being 10 years. This is a classic case of a subsidized industry seeking to maximize its profits at the expense of taxpayers.

To learn more about how utility companies like Xcel Energy are repowering their facilities after only ten years, read our article The Death of a Wind Farm.