Long-Lived Clean Power: Wind Turbines Last 25 Years, Study Says

In the search for clean energy, wind power appears to be one of the most promising avenues, along with solar.

But to be a reliable source of electricity, individual wind turbines need to be durable. Wind won't make a very attractive investment if turbines or generators have to be replaced every few years.

A new study from the Imperial College Business School in London suggests that wind turbines can last up to 25 years before they need to be upgraded or replaced.

Researchers surveyed each onshore wind farm in the U.K., using local wind speed data from NASA.

Illinois Wind Farm
Illinois Wind Farm

The NASA data was compared to the wind speed recorded by the turbines at each farm. A formula was then devised to calculate how wear and tear had affected the machines' output.

After crunching the numbers, the researchers concluded that all of the turbines should make it through their expected lifespan of 25 years before any upgrades are needed.

The study found that the oldest wind turbines still produce three-quarters of their original output after 19 years in operation.

That equates to similar performance to electricity-generating gas turbines.

The new research also refutes a previous claim that average electricity output from wind turbines decreases by one third after 10 years.

The bottom-line conclusion: Wind turbines can most likely operate for long periods of time without the need for either major repairs or replacement with newer designs.

The authors of the study hope that its results will encourage more investment in wind farms.

Wind-generated power can help further reduce the environmental impact of electric cars. The cleaner the energy source, the lower a plug-in car's carbon footprint will be.

Why stop with the cars themselves, though?

Honda uses wind turbines for energy at its Marysville, Ohio plant--proving that the vehicle production process too can be made greener.


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