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Sustainable decommissioning of an offshore wind farm

Topham, Eva and McMillan, David (2017) Sustainable decommissioning of an offshore wind farm. Renewable Energy, 102 (Part B). pp. 470-480. ISSN 0960-1481

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Abstract

The offshore wind industry has historically focused on setting up new projects, with the decommissioning phase receiving little attention. This can cause future problems as decommissioning needs to be planned at the beginning to prevent complications that may arise, as it implies important operations and high costs. There are numerous features that make decommissioning a challenge, such as the marine environment, the technical limitations of vessels and the lack of specific regulations that determine what should be done, increasing the uncertainty of the process. Additionally, the unique characteristics of the sites involve exclusive optimal solutions for each project. This article analyses the main operation parameters that affect the decommissioning process, identifying the benefits and drawbacks of the influencing variables. A model is designed to compare different transportation strategies, searching for cost reduction. A decommissioning methodology is been proposed based on this analysis, taking into consideration the technical aspects of the process, and minimising environmental impacts. The model forecasts that the predicted duration and costs of this process are not being adequately captured in site decommissioning plans.