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Multifaceted political and social drivers inform wind energy repowering decisions and potential

Wind energy repowering decisions are multifaceted and depend on the physical, political and social landscape, as factors such as noise regulation, aesthetics and political bargaining can significantly influence project development. Policy should recognise that a technology perspective alone cannot inform implementation pathways and should be supplemented with an understanding of the political and social dimensions.

Messages for policy

  • Wind energy repowering is a negotiated process that involves the increase of clean energy supply as well as the creation of opportunities to reduce community impacts of wind turbines.

  • Active policy focus on repowering can, with a robust understanding of its multifaceted drivers and decision processes, exploit the opportunities and maximize the potentials and benefits of repowering.

  • The relevance of policy focus on repowering will increase with time as turbine fleets age, wind energy use increases around the world and the cumulative effects of deployment become more prominent.

  • Noise regulation, aesthetic principles and political preferences are important drivers in repowering and can lead to earlier and more dismantling of turbines that have impacts on local communities.

  • Estimations of repowering potentials (for example, net capacity increases) may decrease when considering the breadth of physical, social and economic factors that ultimately drive repowering decisions.

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Fig. 1: Illustrative map of a typical repowering project.


Further Reading

  • Del Río, P., Calvo Silvosa, A. & Iglesias G¢mez, G. Policies and design elements for the repowering of wind farms: a qualitative analysis of different options. Energy Policy 39, 1897–1908 (2011). This work analyses advantages and drawbacks of policy instruments and design options in repowering of wind farms.

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  • Lacal-Arántegui, R. & Uihlein, A. Repowering wind turbines - analysis of the effects of technology substitution in repowered wind farms. Appl. Energy 23, 660–675 (2020). This work details the change in wind turbine technology and performance that has resulted from historical repowering decisions.

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  • Lantz, E., Leventhal, M. & Baring-Gould, I. Wind Power Project Repowering: Financial Feasibility, Decision Drivers, And Supply Chain Effects Technical Report NREL/TP-6A20-60535 (NREL, 2013); work provides background and perspective on the economic drivers for wind energy repowering decisions.

  • Silvosa, A. C., Gómez, G. I. & Del Río, P. Analyzing the techno-economic determinants for the repowering of Wind Farms. Eng. Econ. 58, 282–303 (2013). This work identifies the relative importance of technical and economic variables in the financial feasibility of repowering wind farm projects.

    Article  Google Scholar 

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The original work has been in part funded by the Danish public Energy Technology Development and Demonstration Program (EUDP), project number 64018-0577. The original Article constitutes a contribution from the European Commission to IEA Task 26 research. The views expressed are purely those of the authors and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission. The original work was authored (in part) by the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, operated by Alliance for Sustainable Energy, LLC, for the US Department of Energy (DOE) under contract no. DE-AC36-08GO28308. Funding provided by the US Department of Energy Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy Wind Energy Technologies Office. The views expressed in the article do not necessarily represent the views of the DOE or the US government. The US government retains and the publisher, by accepting the article for publication, acknowledges that the US Government retains a nonexclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, worldwide license to publish or reproduce the published form of this work, or allow others to do so, for US government purposes.

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Correspondence to Lena Kitzing.

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Kitzing, L., Jensen, M.K., Telsnig, T. et al. Multifaceted political and social drivers inform wind energy repowering decisions and potential. Nat Energy 5, 950–951 (2020).

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