How Turbine Digitization is Supercharging Inspections in Repowering Projects

How Turbine Digitization is Supercharging Inspections in Repowering Projects

30 Aug 2023 Written by Naomi Stol Zamir

Wind turbines have significantly improved since the first few generations kicked off the industry. Now, some wind farms are looking to replace older turbines with new ones, especially in places like Germany, where space for wind turbines is limited.

Fortunately, there’s a growing market for older turbines to meet the new supply of turbines with steady demand. Emerging economies and various industrial operations can benefit significantly from older turbines without spending millions on the latest and greatest options.

The movement has earned the name ‘repowering,’ as it gives new life to turbines that might otherwise be decommissioned. Repowering wind turbines has rapidly become an essential aspect of the overall wind industry.

This still-growing used turbine market appeals to several different parties, creating a new source of revenue for wind farms and allowing more companies and countries to benefit from renewable energy.

Inspections are an essential step in the repowering process, making autonomous drone inspections and asset digitization potent ways to supercharge the entire market.

Who is Interested in Wind Repowering Projects?

Wind repowering is a relatively new second-hand market for wind turbines. We can divide this market into three overall segments that enable more revenue for wind farms while providing greater access to renewable energy for others. Let’s review the key segments powering the second-hand market.

1. Commercial and Industrial Users

Many industries can benefit from supplementing or replacing their energy source with wind power, but they don’t need a 30 MW wind turbine. Today, OEMs don’t offer turbines under 5 MW, but many industrial users only need 2-4 MW turbines.

These types of users aren’t energy producers; it’s not their core revenue source. They need a source of less powerful turbines. This gap in needs compared to OEMs’ available turbines is a strong foundation of the used wind turbines market.

2. Emerging Economies

Countries of all sizes with emerging economies are starting to supplement existing power sources with renewable energy but often lack the funds to buy brand-new turbines. The repowering market meets these needs directly, allowing these countries to benefit from renewable energy without the high price tag of the latest turbines.

3. Wind Farms and 3rd Party “Brokers”

The above two segments are buyers, but who’s selling? Of course, wind farms supply the used turbines, but another party also enters the equation — 3rd party “brokers.”

Brokers inspect, sell, disassemble, transport, and re-assemble a used turbine. We’ll dive more into that process below, but for now, it’s worth remembering that most wind farms aren’t directly working with the sellers. While that does still happen, wind farms can also work with brokers when it’s time to replace a functioning but underpowered turbine.

A broker generates revenue by charging fees for the overall process. It’s essential for both buyers and sellers to understand these fees and when brokers are paid before moving forward with one.

Why Turbine Digitization is Supercharging the Second-Hand Market

The digitization of wind turbines is changing the game for wind farms, and the pre-owned market creates yet another potent use case for new technologies.

An autonomous drone wind turbine inspection can significantly speed up the sales process by allowing sellers to provide a wealth of accurate turbine data to either sellers or buyers. Additionally, these other parties can also use drone inspections to detect faults before or after transporting the turbine.

Moreover, building a wind turbine digital twin creates a new way for sellers to convey accurate information about specific turbines or entire portfolios to buyers, creating a single source of truth for all stakeholders involved.

Leverage vHive to Streamline Buying and Selling Pre-Owned Turbines

Every new generation of wind turbines is going to make an older generation increasingly less appealing to wind farms. At the same time, many farms can’t simply expand available real estate — they need to maximize what’s already available.

Selling pre-owned turbines to industrial users and emerging economies is an excellent way to create new revenue while also supporting the overall push for renewable energy.

Inspections are a critical step in the entire process for both buyers and sellers. Turbines need to be in excellent condition before being sold and need to be inspected again once assembled in the new location.

vHive’s cutting-edge turbine digitization solution can streamline the inspection processes and contribute to the overall market.


Ready to discover how vHive can help streamline turbine inspection to benefit both buying and selling? See vHive in action by booking a demo today.

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