The costs of wind power are falling, not only for turbine cost and performance, but also for operating and maintaining onshore wind farms. In just the last four years, operation and maintenance costs have dropped 38 percent, according to the Bloomberg New Energy Finance Wind Operations and Maintenance Price Index.
The figures are based on average prices for full service operation and maintenance contracts in onshore wind farms between 2008 and 2012. For the report, which appeared in the first issue of the O&M Price Index, Bloomberg analysts examined confidential operation and maintenance contract data from 38 major wind power developers and service providers around the world.
The costs of wind power are falling, not only for turbine cost and performance, but also for operating and maintaining wind farms. Shown here, Siemens service engineers work in a wind turbine's gondola.
Service providers consisted of turbine manufacturers, primarily in Europe and the Americas. The price data included 104 confidential and undisclosed contracts in more than 24 markets. Typical contracts considered in the report included replacement costs of major components -- for example, blades, gearboxes, and generators -- as well as scheduled and unscheduled maintenance work.
Compared to the costs of gas-fired and coal-fired generation, the capital costs of wind power have already become more competitive due to better turbine siting and wind farm management, as well as lower cost, more technically advanced turbines, said Michael Liebreich, chief executive of Bloomberg New Energy Finance, in a press release.
Wind project owners and investors are becoming increasingly interested in improving the performance and efficiency of wind assets, since better planning and more efficient management of spare parts can improve output and generators’ margins by cutting unplanned, unexpected downtime.
We've previously reported on remote-controlled climbing robots developed to make wind tower maintenance easier, cheaper, and safer by doing it remotely. Although these have not yet been deployed in anything resembling huge numbers, their use could also bring maintenance costs down even more in the future.