By Editors of Power Engineering
Operations and maintenance on North American wind facilities is expected to exceed $40 billion from 2015 through 2025.
Much of that cost is due to aging equipment, as the majority of wind turbine equipment is more than five years old, according to a benchmarking study by HIS Markit.
“The average age of the North American wind fleet will rise from 5.5 years in 2015 to 7 years in 2020, and to 14 years in 2030,” said Maxwell Cohen, senior research analyst at IHS Markit. Cohen, along with Ryan Siavelis, senior research analyst, at IHS Markit, is co-author of the 2017 IHS Markit Wind O&M Benchmarking in North America: Summary of Key Findings. “Along with that, equipment maintenance and operating costs are increasing significantly, leading operators to focus on performance optimization and cost management. We designed this study to help wind-asset owners compare the performance of their projects against the market as a whole, as well as to help them determine the optimal O&M strategy for their business.”
Cohen said first-year startup costs can be expensive as problems crop up, and then costs spike again starting in the fifth through tenth-year of operations.
The report noted more than 50,000 utility-scale wind turbines comprising nearly 100,000 MW of generating capacity is now operational in 42 states and 12 Canadian provinces, with an average age of six years. That figure will grow to 70,000 wind turbines and 150,000 MW by 2030.
“The age of that capacity in 2030 will make the O&M business very lucrative, which is why so many players are expanding into this sector of the business,” Siavelis said. “We see new entrants from across the value chain competing for wind O&M service agreements. Original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) including Suzlon, Siemens Gamesa, MHI and Vestas are becoming more active in offering to service turbines manufactured by other OEMs, for example.”
HIS Markit’s study estimated the median O&H cost was more than $48,000 per MW in 2016.