Wind turbines can last for a quarter of a century, UK study proves

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26 February 2014

LONDON: Wind turbines are capable of generating energy over a 25 year period, a new study from Imperial College Business School in London has just revealed.

Previously, it was believed that turbines have a shorter life span than other energy technologies, but this study offers comprehensive proof that wind energy is not simply a short-term investment.

The research team, led by Professor Richard Green and Dr. Iain Staffell, conducted a nationwide analysis of the UK’s fleet of wind turbines using local wind speed data from NASA, and found that the turbines will last their full life of approximately 25 years before they need to be upgraded. 

The researchers found that turbines built in the early 1990s are still producing 75% of their original output, nearly twice the amount of energy which has been claimed before.

Furthermore, modern turbines are even more efficient than earlier models, a fact which has led the academics to project a longer lifespan for turbines in the future.

Given these positive findings, Professor Richard Green, the paper’s co-author and head of Imperial's Department of Management, believes that “this study gives a ‘thumbs up’ to the technology and shows that renewable energy is an asset for the long term.”

Dr Iain Staffell concurs, adding: "Wind farms are an important source of renewable energy. In contrast, our dwindling supply of fossil fuels leaves the UK vulnerable to price fluctuations and with a costly import bill ... Our study provides some certainty, helping investors to see that wind farms are an effective long-term investment and a viable way to help the UK tackle future energy challenges.”

The UK government has set a 2020 target of generating 15% of Britain’s energy from renewables. At present the 4,246 individual wind turbines across 531 UK wind farms provide 7.5% of the nation's electricity. 

Related news:

35,000 wind power jobs could be created in Ireland, where renewables saved over $1 billion in 5 years

Largest wind farm in Southern Hemisphere gets approval to be built in South Australia

Global wind power capacity grew 12.4% in 2013, led by China and Canada

Image credit: Wind Turbine by Lamoix/Flickr

By Alana Ryan

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