Posted By Josh Talayka on October 9, 2012
I’ve always been a big advocate of increasing our use of renewable energy sources, and on the surface, wind does sound like a great source of energy. However, before you decide to invest your money into the next wind farm or even just have a small windmill built for your personal property, you will want to make sure you factor in the high maintenance costs that you can expect with most wind turbines.
Wind turbines like all mechanical devices do experience wear and tear and will require continual maintenance. The extent of maintenance items will vary depending on the size and complexity of the turbine. However, you will generally at least need to conduct the following ongoing maintenance of a unit:
- Torquing and re-torquing the tower bolts. Because of the extreme forces and changing wind velocities the turbine experiences, the tower bolt will constantly be experiencing pull and therefor will need to be torqued down on a regular basis.
- Ensure that oil, belts, lubrication, and air filters are being changed out regularly. In some cases, just little dirt in the system or a faulty belt can lead to a catastrophic failure of a major system. There are now some vendors that have the ability to monitor these items for you remotely.
- Ongoing inspections, testing, and realignment of things like the turbines brake pads, shafts, and all the units’ hydraulic components.
General maintenance on a small turbine producing up to about 20 kilowatts, your annual maintenance can be as low as $1,000. However, large industrial units can easily be 10 to 100 times that amount. Even with the larger units, the general maintenance costs are usually low enough to ensure profitability. The main cost issues associated with wind turbines which can easily tip the balance sheets does not occur until a major system failure is experienced.
For example: One of the most expensive systems in a turbine is the gearbox assembly (most gear box failures can be prevented by ensuring proper lubrication). Even on a small unit, replacing a gearbox can cost up to $100,000 after you take into account crane rental. For large scale units, this type of replacement can easily cost up to $1 to $1.5 million. Depending on the manufacturer, you may also need to include high shipping costs if the replacement unit needs to be shipped from over seas. Keep in mind that while all this is happening, money is being lost do to the lack of energy production.
Should you have any questions or need further information,
please don’t hesitate to contact me, (775) 220-1630
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Legal disclaimer: I am not an attorney, tax professional, modification specialist or credit counselor. The information contained in this article/blog is intended to provide general information on the subject and not to provide any legal, tax, or credit advice. You should not act upon this or any information without first seeking independent tax and/or legal counsel.