Useful lifespan of wind farms increases to 30 years

A new report shows that for a project with a 30-year lifespan, the levelised cost of energy is around $33.5/MWh

The Big Zero report

Experts from across the wind sector believe the useful lifespan of modern wind farms has increased to an average of 30 years.

A new report from Berkeley Lab shows the majority of wind project developers, sponsors and owners have increased project-life assumptions for facilities in the US from a typical term of around 20 years at the start of the millennium to around 30 years nowadays.

It reveals assumptions on the lifespan of new facilities ranges from 25 to 40 years, with an average of 29.6 years.

The report notes the expected useful life of a project affects expectations about its profitability, as well as decommissioning and repowering dates and the levelised cost of energy (LCOE).

The estimated average LCOE for new wind projects built in 2018 is $40.4/MWh (£32.7), assuming a 20-year project life.

For a 30-year lifespan, the LCOE falls to $33.5/MWh (£27.15) – in the future the report predicts LCOE could fall to $30.3/MWh (£24.6) if 40-year lifespans become the new standard.

Wind power is forecast to be the fastest-growing source of electricity generation in the US in 2020.

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