The best wind locations are nowadays often occupied by old, less efficient and relatively small wind turbines. Many of them will soon reach the end of their operating lifetime, or lose financial support. Therefore, repowering comes to the fore. However, social acceptance and land use restrictions have been under constant change since the initial expansions, which makes less area available for new turbines, even on existing sites. For the example of Germany, this study assesses the repowering potential for onshore wind energy in high detail, on the basis of regionally differentiated land eligibility criteria. The results show that under the given regional criteria, repowering will decrease both operating capacity and annual energy yield by roughly 40% compared to the status quo. This is because around half of the wind turbines are currently located in restricted areas, given newly enacted exclusion criteria. Sensitivity analyses on the exclusion criteria show that the minimum distance to discontinuous urban fabric is the most sensitive criterion in determining the number of turbines that can be repowered. As regulations on this can vary substantially across different regions, the location-specific methodology chosen here can assess the repowering potential more realistically than existing approaches.

Renewable Energy, Vol. 180

Jan Frederick Unnewehr, Eddy Jalbout, Christopher Jung, Dirk Schindler, Anke Weidlich

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