Transition Aging Wind Farms to Higher Production


In a 2013 conversation with David Sigsworth, former CEO and Chairman of the Board of Scottish Southern, the issue was raised about the difficulties permitting agencies and developers are having with aging wind farm transition.  Decommissioning is its own process.  Recommissioning requires plans and permits for the newly configured turbines.  During the planning and transition of removal/replacement, the flow of energy will be disrupted.  New investment capital will be required.  Mr. Sigsworth reported that he thought utility scale VAWT technology could play an important role in this part of the wind industry.

Aging wind farms from the late 80’s and early 90’s are ready to be decommissioned.

Modular WHI Vertical Axis Wind Turbine Systems (WHI VAWT Systems) support developers during transition, enabling build-out of arrays of VAWTs that generate energy as HAWTs are dismantled, and providing a higher capacity factor once the new HAWTs are installed.

Developers are able to work with the WHI VAWT Systems and gain experience with the complementary technology.  Depending on the site, they may find that replacing the HAWTs with arrays of VAWTs will yield more energy from the site, cost-effectively.

WHI Turbine

Ease development challenges with lower-profile, bird friendly installations.

In many parts of the world, high wind resources were developed first.  Premium sites often host early HAWT installations, and regulators/permitting agencies have had second-thoughts about issues related to wild-life and visual impact.

Environmental concerns may make re-permitting the site difficult, and WHI VAWT Systems offer a lower-profile, bird-friendly option.  Each site is unique and needs to be reviewed independently for policy and environmental factors, such as flyways and documented wildlife fatalities.  For example, in the Tehachipi Mountains, east of Los Angeles, existing farms are being reviewed for bald eagle strikes.  The bald eagle is the national bird for the United States, and re-permitting needs to take into account pressure to protect this species.

For some early sites, the enthusiasm for wind energy and little experience with long-term visual impact supported permitting agencies as large wind farms were developed.  After two decades, the political climate has changed with the experiences of the neighboring communities and regions.  The sites were premium sites, and developers seek to decommission and recommission to support ongoing energy production.  WHI VAWT Systems may offer a significant enhancement of energy from the site, by building out arrays of turbines that capture the coupled vortex effect, and the power density which enables developers to build out linear arrays, 50-100m between the rows, and enables developers to place turbines as close as 2meter apart, capturing the shed vortices from the proximate turbine.

Health and Safety Reduces Risk

WHI VAWT Systems were designed to reduce the safety risk for workers during installation, operations, and maintenance.  The ease of transport also reduces risk of injuries during transit of the turbines, which can be accomplished in conventional shipping containers (2 turbines/container).

Conventional turbines require the workforce to be highly trained to be able to work in the 80m tall nacelles, climbing the towers during heat and cold challenges the maintenance team.  Working on WHI VAWT Systems poses far less risk as the generator is at ground level and the top of the turbine is 18m.  In today’s world, being able to train workers for a lower-risk job enables more jobs to be created from existing labor pools, and provides employment for the community.  WHI provides training for safer installation and maintenance by local workers.

Local jobs for Operations and Maintenance

WHI VAWT Systems are low-tech, compared with conventional wind turbines.  At 18m high, with a 12m rotor diameter, the turbine installation and maintenance can be managed in many cases with local labor.  This offers many communities and wind farms an advantage of local economic development moving forward.  WHI offers training for the local workforce to support implementation.