This old Texas wind farm now makes more power with fewer turbines

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An old wind farm in Texas just got a second life, and its capacity has gone from 160 megawatts (MW) to 182 MW.

An old Texas wind farm gets a second wind

The Brazos Wind Farm is in Fluvanna, in Borden and Scurry counties, in West Texas. It sits on around 10,000 acres.

InfraRed Capital Investments acquired 60% ownership of the Brazos Wind Farm site last month, but Shell USA continues to operate the site.

Brazos was initially completed in December 2003 and featured 160 1-MW wind turbines capable of powering around 30,000 homes. But Shell redeveloped it, and it now has 182 MW of power generation capacity that can produce enough electricity to power approximately 67,000 homes.

Due to an increase in wind turbine size and more advanced technology, that big bump in generation capacity has been achieved with 122 fewer turbines onsite. Brazos now features 38 next-generation Nordex 5-MW turbines. The new Nordex turbines enable remote monitoring and data generation, plus they’re safer and more reliable.

(But… thirty-eight wind turbines x 5 MW = 180 MW. Maybe two old 1 MW turbines were retained to reach 182 MW? I’ve asked Shell.)

As for the 160 decommissioned turbines, Shell says it’s contracted the removal and repurposing of 2,100 tons of fiberglass from the blades, and the “material will be repurposed to support the creation of products for concrete, asphalt, composites, and/or bulk molding applications.” (I’ve also asked Shell about its plans for the other turbine components and will update when I hear back.)

Electrek’s Take

At 21 years old, Brazos reached the end of its life. Repurposing it makes sense – the infrastructure is already there to transmit the clean power. And the new Brazos will do it more efficiently – more power with fewer turbines.

Repurposing wind farms will almost certainly become the norm in the future as wind farms age, and that’s great. But a lot of thought, planning, and public and private collaboration need to be implemented now to come up with a recycling strategy for what will be an enormous amount of steel and fiberglass coming down the pipeline.

Read more: This 408-MW solar farm will be one of the largest in Texas


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