Wind Plant Performance with Age in the United States

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To accurately predict lifetime energy output for wind plants one must account for performance changes overtime. A number of studies have investigated the lifetime performance of wind plants in several European countries, showing measurable declines in performance as plants age. However, the results vary by country and involve differing vintages of plants. This research is the first to quantify performance with age across the U.S. wind fleet, and is based on analyzing the generation records and wind resources of over 900 wind projects. On average, the U.S. fleet saw performance declines that were similar to those found in Europe. However, a key finding was that newer plants (those less than 10 years of age) show significantly less performance decline compared to the performance of older plants during their first 10 years of age. Additional links between plant characteristics and performance were explored, with the strongest evidence highlighting the link between performance and the Production Tax Credit (performance declines after the expiration of the tax credit). Overall, these results indicate that operators have some control over performance and that newer plants have been able to more effectively employee strategies to mitigate performance decline.

Featured Speaker: Dev Millstein, Research Scientist, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory

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