Repowering – The Benefits, Challenges, and Considerations

By Lakshman Sutrave, November 13, 2017

On 5th August, 2016, MNRE issues the Repowering policy for Wind Power projects. The repowering market is thus expected to become the focus in the near future, becoming a sizeable market segment within the wind energy space.

What is Repowering?

The process of replacing old technology that has low capacity, low plant load factor turbines with new technology, that has higher capacity, high PLF turbines, thereby increasing the power generation of an existing wind park to a considerable level is repowering. However, the level of repowering may vary from replacing the parts of the drive train to replacing the entire turbine.

How is Repowering done?

It is not necessary that all Turbines in the park be replaced with new turbines. It might not be viable or make business sense for the investor. Hence, a clear plan is drawn after mirco-siting on which turbines need to be replaced, so that Power generation is optimized (maximum output with minimum investment).

What are the benefits of Repowering?

1. Better utilization of Class I and Class II sites, thereby increasing the PLF and Power output. The power output can even be double as compared to the earlier output.

2. Reduction of O&M costs, as the Turbines are lesser in number, newer and require lesser maintenance.

3. Better control, as newer turbines have less RPM, low cut in speeds and Pitch controls.

4. Better & faster grid synchronization and lesser consumption of Reactive power.

What are the challenges in Repowering?

1. Thorough micro-siting is necessary without which the project stands the risk of failing the business plan. However, with existing wind turbines operating in the farms, micro-siting become a challenge

2. Micro-siting has to be done in shared farms, as the Turbine to be replaced cannot have one to one replacement done, due to neighbouring Turbines owned by other entities

3. Decommissioning of old turbines and erection and commissioning of new turbines

4. Power evacuation planning – in case the existing grid does not have the capacity to take in more power, the park is likely to have curtailments

5. With states like MP removing must run status for Renewable power, it is a risk to invest in such projects

Tariff for Repowered Projects

The new repowering policy by IREDA states that the Discoms can buy power at an average tariff of last three years generation for existing PPAs and buy the excess generated power as per existing state feed in tariff (FIT).

Importance of Financial analysis

It is vital to do a thorough financial analysis of the existing project, output after repowering and green field investments. The financial analysis should also allow scenario based suggestions (what-if analysis), so that future uncertainties and regulatory risks can also be factored-in during the financial feasibility study. The analysis should also consider factors such as historic trends of power generation, efficiency, downtimes, grid behaviour and changes in wind patterns over time.

Repowering in Countries outside India

The repowering market has caught up in the EU and US regions, which were forerunners in Wind Power generation. Denmark, Germany, Netherlands and US (California) either, already have or are expected to have, a sizeable market for Repowering. Few markets have also framed regulations for repowering.

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Lakshman Sutrave

Lakshman is a seasoned Marketing Specialist with a focus on Product Marketing, Pre-Sales, Presentations and Demos. He has over 10 years of experience working in Marketing with large brands like Frost & Sullivan, GE Prolec and Triveni Turbines. He currently works with Bahwan Cybertek helping market the company’s marquee Energy & Renewables products. His extensive experience working in Energy adds great value to the company and its offerings.

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