- JoNova - https://www.joannenova.com.au -

Is this the start of the death-spiral for old windfarms in Europe

Wind farms need subsidies, Josh.

The subsidy that flows whatever the weather  |  by  Josh.

How do you know when an industry is a loser? When even repowering old turbines, which were put in the best spots, is not worth the trouble unless they get a subsidy, I mean, even more subsidies.

Remember the days when subsidies were needed to get a project going?

Maintenance is not an option

Europe is full of old windfarms. The original subsidies have run out and there’s not much appetite for new ones. Without more free money from taxpayers the most economic option for older turbines is to run them into the ground and give up on them. Maintenance costs are the silent plague. But so too is red tape and legal approval. The age of the European turbines is reaching the point where half of the entire fleet is facing do or die decisions.

John Constable of the GWPF wonders if the wind industry in Europe may be on the point of collapse.

And Europe’s fleet is old:

By 2020, 41% of the currently installed capacity in Germany will be over 15 years old, 44% in Spain, and 57% in Denmark.

John Constable is responding to a renewables policy cheerleaders, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), who recently released the hopeful vested fantasy study: Repower to the People. But the days of ripe subsidies are over, so even the industry sympathizers have to admit that owners of old turbines face a set of no-fun decisions.

Sites with existing wind farms are often impossible to repower due to lack of availability of the site, legal consent, changes in subsidies, environmental protection, public acceptance, or insufficient wind conditions. (p. 1265)

And there’s not much empty space to allow for new and larger gaps between turbines and houses. Residents have wised up to the price of living to close to them:

…the state of Bavaria has even “introduced in 2014 a regulation that sets a new minimum distance of ten times the tip-height between a wind turbine and the closest residential areas” (L. Ziegler et al.). A modern machine can be upwards of 120 metres (nearly 400 feet) to tip, so this implies a separation of over three quarters of a mile, and would rule out many existing onshore wind farms in the UK, particularly in England, where at present there is no formally required separation distance.

Read it all at GWPF: Wind farm Lifetime extensions and repowering


L. Ziegler et al. (2018) “Lifetime extension of onshore wind turbines: a review covering Germany Spain, Denmark, and the UKRenewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews, 82 (2018), 1261–1271)





9.2 out of 10 based on 82 ratings