Kaput!: German Wind Farms Set for Dismantling as Subsidies Dry Up

Claims that wind turbines run on the smell of an oily rag and last for 25 years are a proven nonsense.

What wind worshippers tend to forget is that these things have a useful (that is to say ‘economic’) lifespan of around 12 years.

Subsidies are what built them. Subsidies are what run them. So, when the subsidies run out, it isn’t long before the only remaining force at work is rust.

No country went harder or faster than Germany, when it came to spearing wind turbines and splaying solar panels as far as the eye can see.

The cost for German households and businesses, in terms of rocketing power prices, has been colossal and the effect on its grid is both costly and chaotic (a point picked up in the second piece in today’s post).

But first, here’s what happens when the subsidy plug gets pulled.

German Wind Farms to be Terminated as Subsidies Run Out
31 October 2017

Wind power is the most important component of Germany’s green energy transition. The end of subsides for older turbines, however, threatens countless wind farms. By 2023, more than a quarter of Germany’s onshore wind farms may be gone.

Several thousand wind turbines in Germany are likely to be closed down in the next decade because they will no longer receive any subsidies. “If electricity prices do not rise over the next decade, only a few plants will survive on the market without subsidies,” says an analysis by the Berlin-based consulting firm Energy Brainpool. This assessment is shared by most professionals. “In any case, by 2020, the shutdown of existing facilities is to be expected to a greater or lesser extent,” an article by several economists of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research in Leipzig concludes.

The sticking point is the electricity price of 2021, which nobody knows today. Older wind turbines who have been running for 20 years or more will lose their subsidies under the Renewable Energy Act (EEG), but not their operating permit. They could go on generating power, if they would be profitable. Like all older technology, after 20 years of wear and tear, wind turbines are prone to repairs and are more maintenance-intensive than new products. Operating costs are higher too. The current electricity price of around three cents per kilowatt hour would not be enough to keep wind farms running – with perhaps a few exceptions in particularly good locations.

By 2021 alone, 5,700 wind turbines with a capacity of 4,500 megawatts will be closed down. In the following years, 2,000 to 3,000 megawatts each will be decommissioned. The German Wind Energy Association estimates that by 2023 around 14,000 megawatts of installed capacity will be gone. That would be more than a quarter of the currently installed onshore wind power capacity which would be eliminated.

The planned expansion corridor for onshore wind energy envisages that 2,900 megawatts of power will be installed in 2020 and in subsequent years. But that’s gross, not net. Decommissioned and dismantled facilities are not considered. In light of the current situation, more wind capacity would be decommissioned than new capacity added. Onshore wind energy would shrink, not grow.
Full story in German

(Not) going the distance: Hawaiian wind farm proves rust never sleeps.


NoTricksZone tackles the same ‘end-of-days’ debacle in this piece, but also deals with a recent event where a ‘big blow’ flooded Germany’s power market for a few hours, leaving German power consumers with a whopping bill.

Storm, Price-Collapse “Expose Madness Of Energiewende” … Thousands Of Turbines To Be Dismantled As Subsidies Expire
No Tricks Zone
Pierre Gosselin
1 November 2017

The online Die Welt here reports that storm “Herwart” which swept across Germany late last month – with wind gusts of up to 140 kilometers per hour  – led to a wholesale electricity “price collapse” and thus “exposed the madness of the Energiewende”.

“Negative prices”

As storm Herwart raged, wind parks across Germany flooded electricity grids with power that was not needed, and thus forced electricity prices on the exchange to go deep into negative levels within just minutes. In a nutshell: grid operators were forced to pay to get rid of the surplus power. But that payment won’t go to consumers, as Die Welt writes:

The consumers get no benefit from this. For them it will even be more expensive.

This is because grid operators are forced to pay large buyers to accept the power that no one needs or wants, they incur added costs, which, of course, will be passed on to the regular German consumers. Germans are already saddled with almost the highest rates in the world. This is despite the preposterous comments made by some media outlets suggesting that German consumers could even get paid for the disposal of waste power.

Market forces disabled

Die Welt presents a chart depicting wholesale power prices. It shows the price falling to -52.11 euros per megawatt hour. And the chart shows that these extreme negative prices have become more frequent over the past 18 months. Die Welt comments:

‘Herwart’ shows in a sobering manner the astounding design deficiency of the German Energiewende [transition to green energies].

Die Welt blames Germany’s Energiewende and the green energy feed-in act, which “systematically disable market forces”.

Thousands Of Older Wind Turbines To Be Dismantled

On another note, the Kiel, German-based Kieler Nachrichten (KN) reports “thousands of wind turbines will be supposedly dismantled over the coming decade because the state subsidies will run out”. “And according to the Berlin-based specialty company Energy Brainpool, these turbines will not be replaced if energy prices do not increase.

Subsidies running out

Economists of the Helmholtz Center for Environmental Research also expect a decommissioning of a considerable number of older turbines. The 2020s is when Germany will start to see the end of its wind energy madness. It all depends on the price of electricity, beginning in 2021. Wind turbines were originally guaranteed fixed feed-in rates for a period of 20 years. Now that these early deals are approaching the end, and the feed-in tariffs expire, it is unlikely that they will continue.

Too expensive to keep in operation

Many old turbines are likely to be put out of commission because they require greats amounts of costly maintenance and repairs, and so become unprofitable to operate. The KN writes:

The current wholesale electricity price of 3 euro-cents per kilowatt-hour will not be enough to keep the turbines in operation.

The KN cites the Bundesverband Windenergie (German Association for Wind Energy) which estimates that some 14,000 MW of installed capacity face being shut down by 2023. “That would be more than a quarter of the currently installed onshore wind energy capacity getting removed.”

A monument to an industrial folly

The question that remains is what will happen to these thousands of defunct turbines. Will they be abandoned and thus leave the country’s idyllic landscape a mass junkyard – a monument to one of the greatest industrial follies man has ever witnessed?
No Tricks Zone

California’s Monuments to Stupidity.

About stopthesethings

We are a group of citizens concerned about the rapid spread of industrial wind power generation installations across Australia.


  1. Yeah, not a single one will be “dismantled”; unless “dismantle” means “abandoned”. Buy suitcase futures, as that is what the cash will be carried in as all the politicians, lobbyists, energy companies start taking extended vacations in non-extradition countries…

  2. I see you are still, indirectly, citing Prof Gordon Hughes’ 2012 study on the performance drop-off of wind turbines. Its statistics and conclusions were seriously questioned by the late Prof, Sir David MacKay, FRS (a wind sceptic; http://www.withouthotair.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/do-uk-wind-farms-decline-very.html), and Roger Andrews (another wind-sceptic; http://euanmearns.com/uk-offshore-wind-capacity-factors-a-semi-statistical-analysis).

    Looking at the load factors for the most recent year (to Autumn 2016) as reported by the Renewable Energy Foundation (also wind sceptics, and the sponsors of Prof Hughes’ study; http://www.ref.org.uk/generators) of some old & new UK offshore wind farms (with turbine numbers & capacities & commissioning years) that are adjacent (so they experienced the same wind regimes, for better comparability):

    North Wales coast:
    North Hoyle (30x2MW=60MW; 2004) 32.3%
    Burbo Bank (25×3.6MW=90MW; 2007) 34.8%
    Rhyl Flats (25×3.6MW=90MW; 2009) 37.0%
    Gwynt y Mor (160×3.5MW=576MW; 2014) 33.4%

    Furness coast:
    Barrow (30x3MW=90MW; 2006) 35.9%
    Ormonde (30x5MW=150MW; 2011) 41.5%
    Walney 1 (51×3.6MW=184MW; 2011) 39.4%
    Walney 2 (51×3.6MW=184MW; 2011) 27.4%
    West of Duddon Sands (108×3.6MW=389MW; 2014) 41.8%

    Lincolnshire coast:
    Scroby Sands (30x2MW=60MW; 2004) 35.3%
    Sheringham Shoal (88×3.6MW=317MW; 2012) 40.3%
    Humber Gateway (73x3MW=219MW; 2015) 44.4%
    Westermost Rough (35x6MW=210MW; 2015) 46.8%

    North Kent coast:
    Kentish Flats (30x3MW=90MW; 2005) 33.1%
    Thanet (100x3MW=300MW; 2010) 35.9%
    Kentish Flats Extension (15×3.3MW=50MW; 2015) 44.8%

    I leave it to STT readers to draw their own conclusions about the magnitude of deterioration of performance with time, even without allowing for turbines that are larger and of newer design being expected to have higher capacity factors, and how well or poorly that matches the conclusions of Prof Hughes’ study that they only last 10 years or so (its Fig 1).

    There may be many good reasons to diss wind power – industrialisation of the countryside being at the top of my list – but I fear Prof Hughes’ study is easily demonstrably not one of them.

  3. Jackie Rovensky says:

    There are a few things to consider when turbines are shutdown never to be reignited:
    They are left where they are which will mean they will rust and decay with others than their owners having to eventually remove the eyesore.
    They will be removed and the blades will have to be buried in landfill with the rest maybe being recycled – but that is not a certainty if any of it cannot be sold for recycling.
    Then there is the problem of whether the company that ‘owns’ a site is actually financially capable of removing them. Lets face it many here in Australia have been placed into the control of $2 companies to protect the true owners from having to pay for removal.
    There is also another aspect of these things that is going to cause a massive environmental disaster in relation to removing and destroying – battery’s.
    This claimed ‘clean’ energy production process is becoming more and more ‘dirty’ each time they try to resolve the problem of reliability.
    When will our Governments accept they have got it wrong and its time to ensure we are looking after OUR environment in an environmentally responsible manner.
    The environment BELONGS TO US ALL it is not something that belongs to misguided ignorant so called environmentalists or the Governments – remember Governments duty is to work for and act in the best interests of the people – US and allowing OUR environment to be destroyed is not working in the best interests of the people of this Nation.
    Every Wind Project now and in the future should receive nothing from the public purse but should be mandated to have sufficient money in a secure ‘bank account’, to ensure these things can be removed and destroyed in an environmentally acceptable manner, where nothing is placed in landfill, or allowed to be destroyed in a manner which causes environmental contamination.
    If it is not possible to stop subsidies immediately then those projects still be receiving them – the subsidies should be directed to be placed in secure accounts where the money is to be used for decommissioning of projects in the future. Thus the companies will not receive the subsidies as a profit but will be able to finance environmentally acceptable decommissioning.

    • Your forward thinking is much appreciated, Jackie.
      As for Germany, on the ground reports from insiders suggest their are approximately 1000 groups of people actively opposing the turbines that are running/ruining now. Who knows how many people are experiencing harm to their health? These things need to be turned off now.

  4. Robert Allan says:

    The answer is NOT blowing in the wind.

  5. Reblogged this on Climatism and commented:
    WHEN the wind don’t blow, or the subsidies cease to flow – the power doesn’t flow and the windmills will GO!

    EXCELLENT news for business, families and workers…

    “SEVERAL thousand wind turbines in Germany are likely to be closed down in the next decade because they will no longer receive any subsidies. “If electricity prices do not rise over the next decade, only a few plants will survive on the market without subsidies,” says an analysis by the Berlin-based consulting firm Energy Brainpool.”

    “ON another note, the Kiel, German-based Kieler Nachrichten (KN) reports: “Thousands of wind turbines will be supposedly dismantled over the coming decade because the state subsidies will run out”.

  6. Well, if decommissioned coal plants are being rehabilitated, then that should be factored in to decommissioned wind farms as well! Put the burden back on to these wind farm charlatans! Why should they be able to walk away from their failed experiments?

  7. Michael Crawford says:

    Will be very interesting to see how many of those defunct turbines long stand as memorials to one of Merkel’s colossal follies.

  8. singletonengineer says:

    Will decommissioned wind turbines be left scattered across the landscapes of the world as they reach their 15th or 20th year or whenever the subsidy runs out?

    If so, they are destined to become the western world’s moai, in comparison to Easter Island’s weather-beaten statues – examples of still life: art representing a failed social experiment.

    Noting that many EROI and LCOE studies are based on 25 to 30 year lifespans for wind power, I look forward to this to be reduced to a more reasonable 15 – 20 years and for proper end-of-life demolition, recycling and site restoration to be included in future cost benefit analyses at their true costs.


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