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Engineering professor Rupp Carriveau stands before a Kruger Energy wind farm in Chatham-Kent.Engineering professor Rupp Carriveau will study data from the Kruger Energy wind farms in Chatham-Kent.

Study to consider 20-year lifespans of wind turbines

In the last five years, the Canadian wind industry has seen exponential growth. More than 6,000 grid-connected turbines pepper the Canadian landscape, but what happens once these towering machines reach end-of-life?

A University of Windsor researcher has teamed with industry and academia to find out.

“It’s coming and there’s been little planning,” said Rupp Carriveau, a UWindsor associate engineering professor and director of the UWindsor Turbulence and Energy Lab. “They haven’t been building megawatt-class machines that long.”

Dr. Carriveau has partnered with Kruger Energy, the Wind Energy Institute of Canada and Enbridge to create an investment decision support system for commercial wind energy. The project is called YEAR21, referencing the year following the machine’s 20-year life expectancy.

“We need guidance on how long assets are going to last,” Carriveau said. “What happens when you hit 20 years and the asset is still ready to go? Should owners repair, replace, expand, remove, do nothing or go to a private buyer?” 

With approximately $550 million invested in turbines, Kruger Energy has granted Carriveau access to eight years’ worth of data from its Chatham-Kent wind farms, which house 88 turbines that generate enough electricity to power approximately 60,000 households.

Read the full story, “To year 21 and beyond,” on the Windsor Engineering website.

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