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How does wind project performance change with age in the United States?

Abstract—
Wind-plant performance declines with age, and the rate of decline varies between regions. The rate of performance decline is important when determining wind-plant financial viability and expected lifetime generation. We determine the rate of age-related performance decline in the United States wind fleet by evaluating generation records from 917 plants. We find the rate of performance decline to be 0.53%/year for older vintages of plants and 0.17%/year for newer vintages of plants on an energy basis for the first 10 years of operation, which is on the lower end of prior estimates in Europe. Unique to the United States, we find a significant drop in performance by 3.6% after 10 years, as plants lose eligibility for the production tax credit. Certain plant characteristics, such as the ratio of blade length to nameplate capacity, influence the rate of performance decline. These results indicate that the performance decline rate can be partially managed and influenced by policy.

Sofia D. Hamilton, Dev Millstein, Mark Bolinger, Ryan H. Wiser, Seongeun Jeong
Energy Technologies Area, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of California, Berkeley, California

Joule 4, 1–17 (2020). doi: 10.1016/j.joule.2020.04.005

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