Wind turbines last at least 25 years, not 10, as climate change deniers claim

Wind turbines last at least 25 years, not 10, as climate change deniers claim, a new study has found.

The right despise wind turbines. Or at least, ardent climate change deniers (an increasingly vocal proportion on the right) despise wind turbines.

Their opposition to turbines is largely ideological: they don’t accept the science of man-made climate change and oppose all measures to combat it.

And yet they must couch that opposition in the language of reason, for a most people accept that climate change is real and that it is caused by human behaviour. They will therefore attack turbines for their purported aesthetic qualities (or lack of), the noise they make and their supposed inefficiency.

A case in point is the length of time that wind turbines are said to last – as little as 12 years according to critics. As the Mail gleefully reported last year:

“Wind farms have just half the useful lifespan which has been claimed, according to new research which found they start to wear out after just 12 years.”

However new research published this week by Imperial College Business School has rubbished this argument. The research, which analysed 4,246 wind turbines using local wind speed data from NASA, showed turbines will last their full life of around 25 years before they need to be upgraded.

The study found that even turbines built in the 1990s are still producing three-quarters of their original output after 19 years of operation; and researchers say tht turbines will continue to operate effectively for up to 25 years.

Speaking to Business Green, co-author of the study and head of the Department of Management at Imperial College Professor Richard Green said the study gave a “thumbs up to the technology and shows that renewable energy is an asset for the long-term”.

The study measured the wind speed at the exact site of each onshore wind farm in the UK using data collected by NASA over a 20-year period. The data was then compared with actual recorded output data from each farm and developed a formula that enabled researchers to calculate how wear and tear on the machinery impacted the performance of the turbines.

As Business Green reports, the previous study, by contrast, only used the average estimates of nationwide wind speeds to determine the effects of wear and tear on wind farm infrastructure.

Just like the climate change deniers, the anti-wind turbine brigade are relying on spurious evidence for their claims.

9 Responses to “Wind turbines last at least 25 years, not 10, as climate change deniers claim”

  1. Nev Hardwick

    I have become convinced that they missed the boat. They could not see a way to make money out of them and when they began to become pervasive they had no return so they were the work of the Devil. I am fully in favour of solar and wind energy; they may not be the whole answer but they have got to be included in the mix.

    One thing that has eluded me, and I fully appreciate that it is a movable feast dependent on wind, but in optimal conditions how much does a wind generator generate?

  2. Cole

    Why have tge right wing loons got such an obsession with wind power?

  3. Timmy2much

    “they don’t accept the science of man-made climate change and oppose all measures to combat it.” Wrong

    We notice that wind turbines are not as efficient as people like to make them out to be. The damage done installing them, both in terms of co2 emissions (the steel used originates from china for starters!) and the damage to the natural environment are not justified when weighed against the energy output.
    There are better, more efficient, options on the table that we need for energy security that have been sidelined in the pursuit of wind turbines – and yes I am on about nuclear.
    As a stop gap it is the best option until other, more reliable, renewable sources can be developed (ie wave power).
    If we had sorted nuclear power out sooner we could have been investing in better research to harness wave power, but instead we had to pander to the hysterical wind turbine brigade and their holier than thou attitudes.

    Now I know I’ll get people wetting themselves about nuclear material but the quantity we are talking about in terms of volume is tiny and can be controlled and monitored easily with little damage in terms of area affected. The damage caused by windturbines on the other hand has amounted to thousands of square miles and rising.

  4. JC

    I wouldn’t describe the author as a right wing loon. It looks more like the left who have the obsession.

    The argument from the right is that there are more cost effective ways of reducing our CO2 emissions and we should be looking at those first.

    Is there anyone out there who actually uses wind power. I know of many who use diesel and petrol to generate electricity to power their homes, but wind power?

  5. Bob Smith

    Jimmy, Jimmy, Jimmy….
    So many of us that are opposed to industrialization of farmland, parks, nature reserves, coastlines and IBAs with hundreds/thousands of 600ft power generators wouldn’t even identify ourselves as “right-wing”. Like many of my peers, I have a problem with one type of machinery – utility scale wind turbines deployed through identical business practices to gas tracking leases by THE SAME COMPANIES!

    After years of education in power generation, I have a fully informed opinion that the successful global marketing of utility-scale wind turbines as a “save the world from climate change” program is nothing more that the greatest ever green-washing program in modern times. The Wind Industry (aka. the oil/gas/energy industry), has duped the almost the entire social/green movement into believing that this particular machine is the epitome of environmental responsibility. The Wind Industry has taken so much from the public purse, that we haven’t really been able to focus on practices, technology and research that actually could make a difference to our power generation emissions. Its now pretty clear via actual data that deployment of large scale Wind Turbine installation actually drives up demand for carbon based power generation – whether it is gas or coal. Consider the impact in the UK of a national building program to simply insulate, modernize, and improve building practices. Surely a few billion pounds here and there would move the emission needle more effectively. But that actually reduces revenue and profit for the the “Wind Industry” (aka. the oil/gas/energy industry) so I think you can see where the lobbying/political effort goes.

    Just like most of my acquaintances, I don’t “deny” observable facts. Once I have reviewed data, considered its acquisition methods, and reviewed literature including critiques, I use judgement to categorize information as “fact”, “opinion”, “conjecture” or “belief”. I trust “beliefs” the least – they are interesting debating positions but little more. Facts: The Climate is changing – especially locally. The forecasting models that the IPCC used for the past decade have proven to be ineffective. Many, many people can’t tolerate living in the midst of wind “farms” (love that term – it reeks of NewSpeak). Property value loss is significant near wind turbine installations. We are emptying our oceans of protein. We are NOT increasing the availability of potable water as our global population increases. We ARE killing off some species that are very, very important to us. What I have judged to be inaccurate and manipulative is that 600ft devices capable of generating power approximately 30% of the time, in varying degrees, at varying times, without strategic power storage capability, are actually going to contribute in any meaningful way to mitigating the negative impacts we (humans) have on our own habitat. We need to spend our public money in other areas in order to really make a difference.

    So James, if I were you, I would first speak, in-person, to some local people who live among wind turbines every day. Make the effort to see the impact of wind turbines on real people. Avoid those who are making money from them…. their opinions are somewhat compromised. Next I would suggest you learn about all the promising things in renewable energy that are starving to death because the “wind industry” has captured the vast majority of public funds. Third, learn about next generation nuclear developments – because that is what is likely going to power this planet for next couple of centuries (unless we enter a new “Dark Age”). Then completely investigate and understand how the Wind/Gas industry uses marketing on a global scale to create its profits.

    That’s not “right wing” as far as I can tell.

  6. Dakiro

    Very interesting and more in-depth than normally can be seen. I especially like the part about nuclear developments. While we are building ITER and researching fusion, lets start building sensible nuclear power stations. Wind power can be useful but I do not think this industry can demand huge sums for little effect and stability.

  7. interested

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7nSB1SdVHqQ
    This one didn’t last 25 years did it?

  8. interested

    wtf is a wind generator?

  9. R V

    Um, I have never run into anyone who opposed wind energy per se. Maybe they react to claims that wind energy can supply a justification to shut down almost every other kind of energy except solar. Rational people will balk at the suggestion that wind and solar can supply most of societies needs.

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