Filthy Future: The Staggering Cost of Cleaning Up ‘Clean’ Energy’s Toxic Mess

Wind turbines don’t run on wind, they run on subsidies: cut the subsidies and once these things inevitably grind to a halt, they’ll never be replaced.

With an economic lifespan of something like 10-12 years (rather than the overblown 25 put forward by turbine makers and wind power outfits), over the next decade countries like Germany will be left with hundreds of thousands of 2-300 tonne ‘problems’ littering the landscape. With hundreds of turbines totally kaput, Germans have already been smacked with the harsh and toxic reality of their government’s so-called ‘green’ obsession.

And they aren’t alone.

Iowa’s wind industry has been going for barely a decade and already wind power outfits are sending thousands of tonnes of toxic waste to landfill.

In addition to 10-15 tonne toxic plastic and fibreglass blades, there’s a smorgasbord of toxic plastics, oils, lubricants, metals and fibreglass in the tower and nacelle; and a 400-500 m³ chunk of steel reinforced concrete in the base.

As Isaac Orr details below cleaning up the environmentally destructive, filthy and toxic mess left behind by so-called ‘clean energy’ comes with a staggering price tag.

It Costs $532,000 to Decommission A Single Wind Turbine
Center of the American Experiment
Isaac Orr
3 October 2019

It looks like Minnesota will have a very expensive mess to clean up when the wind turbines currently operating in the state reach the end of their 20 year useful lifetimes.

According to utility documents filed by Xcel Energy for it’s Nobles Wind facility, it will cost approximately $445,000 (in 2009 dollars) per turbine to decommission the wind facility. This means it would cost $532,000 per turbine (in 2019 dollars) for each of the 134 turbines in operation at this facility, bringing the total cost of decommissioning the Nobles project to $71 million. However, Xcel also stated these estimates were conservative, meaning this likely represents the high-end cost of decommissioning.

Other wind turbines have six-figure decommissioning costs, as well. According to utility documents for the Palmer’s Creek Wind facility in Chippewa County, Minnesota, it would cost $7,385,822 to decommission the 18 wind turbines operating at that site, a cost of $410,000 per turbine.

One would think such a price tag would at least result in a thorough decommissioning job, but one would be wrong.

According to the Nobles Wind document, “Restoration activities will include and not be limited to removal of all physical material and equipment related to the project to a depth of 48 inches.”

This means Xcel will only remediate the site to a depth of four feet, leaving most of the massive concrete foundations, which go as deep as 15 feet, used to anchor the wind turbines , in the ground indefinitely.

Furthermore, according to the website Renewable Technology, Nobles Wind facility has an extensive underground collector cable system, laid at a depth of four feet, connecting the turbines to a central substation. Xcel’s documents were not specific enough to determine if they would be removing these cables, but the Palmer’s Wind Farm project explicitly states that cables deeper than 4 feet would not be removed:

Wind turbines and solar panels are often given a free pass when it comes to their impact on the environment even though they can cause substantial environmental degradation. In contrast, liberal politicians and special interest groups have continued to delay the replacement of an aging oil pipeline with a newer, and safer replacement.

This double standard is a disservice to Minnesotans who must pay more for their energy, and also the environment.
American Experiment

Laying the foundation for a filthy, toxic future.

7 thoughts on “Filthy Future: The Staggering Cost of Cleaning Up ‘Clean’ Energy’s Toxic Mess

  1. “Ninety percent of a turbine’s parts can be recycled or sold”, according to one expert in the field:

    The other 10% presumably being the blades that are usually made of glassfibre, which after the resin has set during manufacturing is a safe, inert substance (if it’s “toxic” why would it be used to build boats, cars and homes).

    There seems to have long been a system for disposing of glassfibre into manufacturing processes (not exactly ‘recycling’ as it doesn’t make new glassfibre), so it shouldn’t be a stretch of technology to put cut-up pieces of fibreglass turbine blades into a similar system:

    That only leaves the cost of decommissioning: how does the cost per kWh of decommissioning a wind turbine compare with decommissioning a nuclear power station?

    1. A nuclear power station will have generated vastly more power during its life, proportionately than a wind turbine.

      Plus, at least in the USA, all nuclear power plants contribute part of their revenue to a decommissioning trust fund. The cost is already covered. Wind and solar installations are liabilities waiting to happen after a very short period of time.

  2. Like the climate change cross dresser that I am, necessity warrants that once again I must swap allegiances in the climate change wars.

    As I dipped the comb of my John Deere harvester into my wheat crop, I could tell by the yield monitor that the crop had an unwelcome visit in the growing season from Jack Frost. If the low yield of my barley crop was anything to go on, I better stock up on cartons of Carlton Draught before the famine really hits. I contemplated the effect of drought on my cash flow, then the devil touched me on the shoulder and then I read the following article.

    The Renewable Energy Messiah and Wolfmother had formed the Climate 200 club during the last election campaign, seeking donations from like minded zealots in an effort to fund the campaigns of independents who had been touched by the wand of the green tooth fairy. In an ominous sign for common sense they plan to come back with a bigger war chest before the next Federal election.

    With my back to the wall and a glowing endorsement from Yoda Yates, I have sold my soul to the enemy and have signed on as a consultant to Climate 200 on a yearly contract.

    In my interview with the Messiah and Wolfmother I was blunt, suggesting the performance of the Climate 200 club at the last election was a complete debacle resulting in the favored independents being smashed to electoral oblivion. They in my opinion were like a flock of old cracker ewes wandering aimlessly around the countryside, bleating to anyone who would care to listen. There would need to be a cull. Like Gene Hackman famous words in the movie Mississippi Burning, “this time we will do it my way.”

    My first job as consultant was to give the group a new vibrant title after all Climate 200 club wouldn’t get to many ovaries vibrating. After studying their mug shots and their desire to reduce Australia’s emissions to net zero by 2050 such that we citizens will return to the age of cave dwellers, they will now be known as the “Primates of 2050 club.”

    The Messiah after the Brian Fisher incident and that train wreck of an interview regarding the NEG on the ABC Drum would be held on a tight rein, all tweets subjected to vigorous vetting.

    Secondly I was to increase the size of donations, for all their rhetoric, $25,000 for these rich daddies was a mere 1/10 share in a colt of good breeding, I suggested they stop being Terry tight arses.

    Maybe I was suffering a little too much exposure to sheep dip but the mention of horses then led me onto my next brain storm. The Messiah’s old man won the Melbourne Cup in 1984 with a horse called Black Knight (don’t tell Keats for Gods sake), with the Melbourne Cup on our doorstep I envisaged donations to the Primates of 2050 club being invested in a colt/filly of suitable breeding lines in an effort to take out the Melbourne Cup before the next Federal election with a horse called “It’s a Climate catastrophe.”

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