How On Earth Do You Get Rid Of Old Offshore Wind Farms?

Nothing lasts forever. Things get old or worn. Technology changes all the time. And the offshore wind power industry is not immune, nor will it ever be, to the ravages of time.

But what do you do when an offshore wind farm has gone past its operational ‘use-by’ date and is no longer as profitable as it once was?

Back in the day, people like the military would have loved sites like these so they could hand them over to their air force or navy for target practice. We can all imagine how cool it would be to fly your Tornado or F-16 Viper over a nice target like an actual wind turbine and create your own version of Call Of Duty (or more likely Winds Of War!). We could possibly even get rocking to the kicks that could be had by plugging away with your onboard cannons from a King Stallion helicopter or by sending a guided missile in their direction from your new Zumwalt Class Stealth ship.

Destruction guaranteed, shipping lanes open, and oh what fun we would have had! And all the better because nobody would have been injured.

More sensibly, in these days where we can measure the actions we take and their impact on the environment, we understand that we have to sometimes be more grown-up in our disposal options. Indeed, we really have to try and not have disposal options at all, instead replacing them with recycling or even re-use options.

And so, in just as cool a way (but in a different way), we now undertake ‘decommissioning and dismantling’ projects. In other words, companies do a total clean up which is almost the reverse of the installation process – but with cooler up-to-date machines.

After 22 years of stealing clean energy from the sky they were no longer as profitable…

This is exactly what has just happened to four offshore wind turbines that once merrily produced 2MW from their Lely Offshore Wind Farm site, some 600 metres from the coast of the Dutch port of Medemblik in the Netherlands Ijsselmeer. After 22 years of stealing clean energy from the sky they were no longer as profitable, and their operators, Nuon, decided they should be removed – cleanly.

Thankfully, a short time lapse film was made of the whole process, which includes removal of nacelle, blades, tower, monopole and cabling – and makes for great viewing.

As time moves on and the wind power industry keeps improving its technology, we will be seeing many more disposal and recycling/re-use projects. And so it must be.

Like the world of tattoos. No sooner did they arrive from the fringes and become a popular and normal part of society, but they were quickly followed a generation later by the removal, replacement and improvement guys.

Looks like yet another sector of the wind power industry is about to flourish.

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