Recycling offshore wind farms at decommissioning stage

Topham, Eva and McMillan, David and Bradley, Stuart and Hart, Edward (2019) Recycling offshore wind farms at decommissioning stage. Energy Policy, 129. pp. 698-709. ISSN 0301-4215

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    Abstract

    Since Vindeby in 1991, more than 100 projects have been installed in Europe, and will need decommissioning one day. Despite the increasing number of projects reaching this phase, decommissioning is still an area that has received relatively little attention. This paper considers the practicalities and economic implications of recycling offshore wind components as part of an end of life strategy. There is no existing source that gathers together materials data for currently operational wind turbines in Europe relevant to recycling. Since this information is necessary for any economic analysis of component recycling, such a dataset was generated. The results illustrate the specific wind turbine materials suitable for recycling, expressed in percentage values of the wind turbine's total mass. An economic analysis is then performed to study how recovering these materials and selling them as scrap metal can impact the decommissioning costs. As concluding remarks, recycling offshore wind components could pay for nearly 20% of the total wind farm decommissioning costs if monopile foundations are considered. Furthermore, the volatility of scrap prices is such that this could even help define when it would be best to decommission an offshore wind farm.