A new status overview report from the Interreg North Sea project Decom Tools highlights the aspect of decommissioning of the components and materials of offshore wind farms.
Most wind turbines are designed and certified for a 20–25 year service life. After this period, they have to be decommissioned or the accredited operational lifetime has to be extended, often accompanied by repowering.
Several offshore wind turbines will reach the 20-year operational lifetime each year in Europe. 22 offshore turbines in 2020, 80 turbines in 2022 and 123 turbines in 2023 will reach the planned lifetime of 20 years and will require decommissioning.
Decommissioning can be defined as ‘All the measures performed to return a site close to its original state as is reasonably practicable, after the projects lifecycle reaches to an end’.
As the offshore wind industry is relatively young, there is only a limited amount of practical experiences in decommissioning and disposing the offshore wind farms.
Proper disposal of the components and the materials can generate monetary benefits and also reduce the overall environmental impact. To harness this potential, it is necessary to analyze the materials used in various components of an offshore wind farm. Different materials present their unique difficulties and key potentials when handled effectively.