The Staggering Cost of Cleaning Up the Mess When the Wind Power Fiasco Ends

Bringing them down is the easy part …


When the wind industry fiasco inevitable grinds to a halt sometime in the next decade, those that entertained it – be it dimwitted farmers or local governments – are going to be left with a monumental clean up bill.

Hence the move in Britain to force (deliberately worthless) wind power outfits to set aside hundreds of £millions to remove the rusting wreckage when the subsidies run out and/or these things collapse or fail:

Brits to Force £2 Wind Power Outfits to Hold £Millions in Reserve to Pay Damages to Victims & for Decommissioning

The Draft Bill (the subject of the post above) aimed at ensuring that wind farm victims can collect their damages claims; and that the whole pointless mess is cleaned up is available here: Public Nuisance from Wind Farms (Mandatory Liability Cover) Bill

The Bill had its first reading, through the 10 Minute Rule Motion procedure, back in July; and will get its Second Reading on 20 November 2015. It’s odds-on to pass – making it all the more difficult for an already beleaguered wind industry in Britain. Oh dear, how sad, never mind.

The Germans, however, are yet to spot the looming environmental disaster – and to take sensible steps to avoid it. Although, this little piece suggests the staggering cost of the clean up is at least on their radar.

Germany Faces Huge Cost Of Wind Farm Decommissioning
Franz Hubik, Handelsblatt
17 September 2015

turbine toppled
No Gold Watch: German turbine takes early
‘retirement’, after only 19 lazy years in the ‘job’.


In Germany, more and more wind turbines are being dismantled. The reason: subsidies are running out, the material is worn out or it is simply more profitable to replace old wind turbines with new ones. The dismantling, however, is extremely complex and expensive.

Across Germany, there are more than 25,000 wind turbines. A disfigurement of the landscape, say some; a symbol of the transformative power of Germany towards a power supply from renewable energy sources, say others. Germany experienced its first wind power boom long before Angela Merkel proclaimed the energy turnaround in 2011 and sealed the end of the nuclear reactors.

Already in the mid-1990s, wind turbines were built on a large scale in the Federal Republic. Because of this, many of the turbines have now reached a critical age.

In the coming year, more than 7,000 turbines will be older than 15 years. Wind turbines are only designed for a limited service life. After 20 years of operation, they have to be shut down and dismantled – unless the owner can prove that stability and fatigue strength are passed.

“Most systems can easily be operated for several more years,” says Torsten Bednarz from the TÜV-Rheinland.

The tests and certifications, which the TÜV carries out at wind installations, show repeatedly that often only minor repairs are needed at many locations in order to ensure the continued operation. Thus it is not so much the alleged disrepair of the turbines – which led to 544 of them being removed last years alone – as the question of whether their operation still makes economic sense.

After 20 years, the guaranteed feed-in tariffs for wind power expire. Without this fixed support, many systems are simply no longer profitable. In addition, it may already be beneficial to replace wind turbines that are only ten years old with new ones, says Dirk Briese, Managing Director of the Bremen market research company Wind-Research. “Today, there are entirely different technologies than there were a decade ago,” analyzes Briese. The performance of the turbines have multiplied, the turbines are also more efficient than before.

For offshore park decommissioning funds must be set aside

It is foreseeable that the dismantling of old wind turbines will increase rapidly in the coming years. But how can the turbines, which weigh more than one hundred tons and are 160 meter high, be taken apart anyway? “Amateurs blow them up or fell them like a tree,” says Alexander Brehm, project manager for large components at PSM. The company specializes in the maintenance, repair and dismantling of wind turbines. Per dismantled turbine the company charges up to €30,000.

In fact, the dismantling of wind turbines is at least as complicated as their installation. With two cranes, every turbine is dismantled piece by piece. Turbines, rotor blades, tower houses and other components from discarded German wind farms are in great demand in Poland, Italy and Russia. At the second-hand market, they can obtain good prices.

Those who simply topple windmills, on the other hand, must firstly accept the loss of still valuable parts. Secondly, remainders of engine oil and heavy metals might pollute the soil. Even more complex is the decommissioning of offshore wind farms. After all, the steel pillars, which were rammed into the seabed, must be brought ashore again. The additional expenses due to the fact that all components must be shipped back on land are gigantic.

So gigantic actually that the operators of offshore wind farms have to hold millions of euros in provisions for the dismantling of offshore windmills. Unlike on land, the dismantling issue in the open sea will only come up in a few years because the first offshore wind farm in German waters went into operation only in 2010.

Translation Philipp Mueller: Full story (in German)

Hawaii rusting turbines
For some reason? Still waiting on that clean-up crew ….

9 thoughts on “The Staggering Cost of Cleaning Up the Mess When the Wind Power Fiasco Ends

  1. I assume they must leave the cement foundations intact to be grown over with plants somehow. Is there any provision to obliterate the scars from access roads? Those alone are a big part of the damage.

  2. Even if turbines are dismantled rather than ‘toppled over’, there is the danger of contamination from substances used to operate them, while they may be getting good prices in Poland, Italy and Russia for the dismantled ones that’s no help to us in Australia, if they are not willing to pay the price of transporting our rubbish to them.

    Then of course what happens when those these countries buy and use to meet their commitments to reducing what ever we are meant to be reducing come crashing down, maybe on top of someone, because they are irreparably fatigued, where is the waste then deposited?

    No matter how you look at it the world is destined to see a massive dangerous waste problem as towers and turbines begin to fail or be replaced – on mass.

    The other part of this story is the massive amounts of concrete left in the ground, does anyone believe it will be removed and salvaged, or will it remain in place to disfigure the land forever?

  3. I’m enjoying thinking about all of these turbines in rural Ontario being turned into something innocuous. It can’t happen soon enough for the people being tormented.

    1. The whole windweasel thing is going to end up being very dirty and messy. So much for clean energy! All that money could have been spent to help mankind instead of destroying it.

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