Take a look through the keyhole
What do you do with wind farms that were originally designed for a service life of 20 years? Steffen Schwagerus, the Managing Director of several operating companies (community wind farms) that are managed by Windwärts Energie GmbH in Hanover, asked himself this question.
Mr Schwagerus, why did you decide for lifetime extension under full maintenance?
A full maintenance contract gives us the greatest possible planning security. While a full maintenance contract is significantly more expensive than a basic contract, it enables us to ensure that the turbines can continue to operate over the contract period. For comparison: If the cost of full maintenance was approximately 20 per cent of the turnover during the first 20 years of operation, it can now easily be up to 35 per cent. This is significantly higher, but it still pays off in the end because PPAs at market prices make this strategy possible and are a real alternative to selling or decommissioning the turbines. In the case of a basic contract, the failure of a large component could quickly spell the end for the turbine. We wanted to protect ourselves from this type of scenario.
How important was it that the wind farms had already been serviced by Deutsche Windtechnik in the past?
We have worked with Deutsche Windtechnik for a long time and our trusting relationship facilitated the negotiations as well as our continuing cooperation. If a scenario occurs that is not covered by the contract, we know that we will find a solution that is acceptable for both parties. This has been proven by our cooperation in recent years.
Would it also have been an option to dismantle or repower the wind farms?
The turbines are operational and in very good condition. If you are in the renewable energy business, you should do everything you can to promote sustainability and ensure that the technical service life of the turbines is utilised as completely as possible. Early dismantling is therefore not an option for us if repowering is not possible. Of course, compared to lifetime extension, repowering is almost always the better solution at suitable installation sites, so we always assess that option.