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"Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm
3

"Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

"Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

(OP)
Interesting video, if you haven't seen it. I haven't found any real info about it. End of life (functional of just economic?) I guess. Anyone seen anything on it?

(Sorry for any ads)

Regards,

Mike

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

(OP)
More boons to be doggled :)

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Wonder how old they were. The demolishers picked a good day to bring them down. None of the windmills were moving.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

(OP)
i thought I'd seen they were 15 yrs, but can't find it again, if it existed. You'd think you google up something other than the video, but I have not.
 

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

I had a pilot wind turbine project (almost) in my backyard. Came down when the project finished.

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

I find it so difficult to believe that there is so little worth salvaging from those other than scrap.

The gearboxes and generators alone should be worth a good amount assuming they aren't totally destroyed from use, no?

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

just because they're being taken down, doesn't mean they're being put into a hole in the ground. Everything worth salvaging probably is.

The blades are probably "cactus" ... although it would be really good information to inspect them (maybe a university or something).

I guess the point of the thread is that these things only make sense when they're subsidized. Makes you think ...

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Like any other modern gear-driven electrical machinery, wind turbines require regular maintenance and have a limited lifetime.

... and of course a significant factor is that work must be done hundreds of feet in the air

Complex controls, gearboxes, inverters, cooling and electrical systems do not last forever and become more expensive to maintain as the years go on. I would assume a common lifetime for a machine like this would be 15 to 20 years.

Turbine vendors come out with improved designs. Science and industry marches on..... Bankers and developers sharpen their spreadsheets and the new Biden Government will come up with a new type of wind turbine financial incentive.

All of these factors affect what will be the useful and economically attractive lifetime.

I am aware of at least two huge windfarms where older turbines, only a few years old, were replaced by newer, higher capacity units just a couple of MWe larger. There was massive foundation rework and strengthening.... Why ? ...... Not because the units were at the end of their useful life, but because the spreadsheets and the bankers said that it was an attractive thing to do...

Jut my two cents ....

MJCronin
Sr. Process Engineer

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote (rb1957)


just because they're being taken down, doesn't mean they're being put into a hole in the ground. Everything worth salvaging probably is.

Based on how those gearboxes are smashing into the ground, I don't think they are salvaging much more than scrap metal from them. I was trying to say that I was surprised the nacelles weren't worth taking down for salvaging (intact) before demolishing the towers. I would have assumed there'd be valuable parts worth more before being free-felled a couple hundred feet.

The blades makes sense because they've got 15 years of exposure and are likely degraded beyond any use other than possible recycling material. 20 years was the standard promise of lifetime by the mfgs. of the gearboxes, but that was supposed to be before gearboxes needed rebuilding/replacing, not destruction of the entire apparatus. I can't find anything official about the reasoning for the decommission though. 20 years of service for 1 MW units though is pretty much the expectation, right? If they were going to continue operating with new units, I'm guessing they wouldn't bale to use those same foundations for something like a 10 MW unit.

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

The newer direct drive wind turbines dont have huge mechanical gear train transmissions. They make AC at turbine rpm. That is rectified into DC which is then again transformed back into AC at mains frequency. Kind of a VFD in reverse. The advantage is a lighter power train that requires a much smaller nacelle for the wind turbine, less weight and drag. A low-maintenance synchronous generator can be used, which dispenses with the need for power electronics for frequency adjustment, thereby increasing the overall facility efficiency. 3-5MW is common mow with some offshore units apparently pushing 7-8.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote (rb1957)

I guess the point of the thread is that these things only make sense when they're subsidized. Makes you think ...

I guess this depends on what your definition of what makes sense is. If you are approaching it from a purely money perspective, cost to generate electricity with wind vs other means (coal, gas, nuclear, etc). Then they make absolutely no sense. I don't think that has ever been questioned.
If your definition focuses on more than money, i.e. cost/impact on the environment, then they do begin to make sense - this of course is highly debated as the full impact on the environment is not clearly defined or known (as far as I know anyway).

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

It may require thinking outside the box.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

(OP)
Waaay outside :)

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

I suppose its relative to the size of the box and its contents.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Thanks! I pasted it over my cat box.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Good luck, it's a cat!

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

The description of the video states that the owner did salvage "some" of the blades and drive-train elements (before demolition).

The real surprising part (to me) is the statement, "No effort was made to preserve foundations". I am very curious as to why this would be. Was it found to be a poor performing location so it doesn't make sense to reuse the foundations for new towers? Is it because no government incentives would be available if same location/foundations were to be used for new towers?
In other words, is there a good scientific reason not to reuse the foundations (and save huge costs for future installations). Or is it all political due to the way incentives are written that ultimately make these things cost even more than they should?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

My guess was that the existing foundations would've been too small for modern, much larger, turbines if that was the plan. So new foundations would been needed anyway. That is just a guess though; I have no idea and couldn't find any good answers to that question.

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

For sure. If they were 20yrs old, probably they were of 0.75 to 1.5 MW capacity. If they are upgrading, then figure probably 2.5 to 3 or maybe 5MW range. The existing tower height will be too short and the OTM of the old foundations will not be anywhere near what the new towers will have given the much greater blade radius, so surely the existing foundations would be insufficient.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

One of the concepts that this post inherently brings to my mind is "life-cycle" costs.

I feel like we (the public) sometimes get hoodwinked by overly optimistic life cycle costs for green energy. By that I mean that, in order to justify their government subsidies, these companies paint a nice picture of how little the maintenance costs are and how long the technology will last and generate power.



RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

(OP)

Quote (JoshPlumSE)

...overly optimistic life cycle costs...

Well, that's one way to put it :)

The problem with sloppy work is that the supply FAR EXCEEDS the demand

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

One of the the greatest advantages of wind and solar is that you can just about get as much of it installed as you want very quickly. No long arduous and expensive permit process, nor lengthy construction schedules and upgrading a wind turbine site is even easier, as the bulk of those costs and time schedule are avoided. The time clock starts ticking well before the first shovel of dirt is turned, so renovation is a great way to acquire higher value per MW.

Everything has a design life and project feasibility is very much based on that life cycle cost. Wind turbines may have a life shorter than a nuclear plant,however the life cycle cost of each reflect in their value per MW-h and shares of cost billed to the consumer. The lifecycle of each method is well known and based on justifiable experience, not overly optimistic at all. If they were running for 15yrs, I'd say they hit spot on. Many heavily mechanised assemblies, engines, pumps, etc are rebuilt within 10 years with an eye on scrapping and total replacement in another 10. Speaking of scrapping, wind turbine dismantling costs are absolutely nothing when compared to others. A small nuclear plant will run you a min of $300MM, and that certainly is overly optimistic.

If it is the subsidies that worry you, think about the avoided costs. When, not if, oil and gas prices rise again, the avoided cost of fuel alone will more than pay for any subsidy, not to mention the usual social costs that, sooner or later, will become more and more apparent as the big clock (yes the environmental clock) ticks down. Cheap oil and gas has dampened that fuse, but its now getting shorter again, even as we speak. Spain just changed the electric cost rate for which the maximum rate has risen 20%, averaging to an expected 8% overall increase to align with the price rise of fossil fuels over the past two years, once again steadily approaching $70/bbl. Avoided fuel costs to the economy, especially to those that do not have home country supplies, can be enough to affect currency value and severely restrict future growth, if not its continued existence. Subsidies, usually just really tax avoidence schemes, have relatively little impact at such a scale. Its just another way that large companies manage to pay little tax. Close that loophole. Did you know that at one time JW Marriott (hotel chain) was one of the biggest wind turbine investors? Why? Yes, a tax avoidance scheme. Are you upset that the tax scheme happened to be connected to wind turbines? If it wasn't that, they could have just as easily avoided tax by investing in some Irish Leprechaun monument. What's the difference?

BTW, a google showed on page #1 that those wind turbines above were indeed old, small units, 1MW each, that were installed in 2002. Lifespan of 18yrs, which hit my midrange estimate exactly. I'm not in that business yet managed to easily figure that out, definitely not being overly optimistic at all. I will bet they used a 15yr life cycly and "economically speaking" got 3yrs of "free power" out of them as well. So, Where's the problem? You want to wait until rust brings them down?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

But they aren't supposed to be 15 years and then the are garbage. The presented idea (though I don't know of any projects successfully carrying this out) for wind turbines was that they would need no major maintenance for those 15 years and then might require overhauling to continue to generate. I am a big proponent of wind power, but the technology has never really lived up to the promises yet.

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Not realistic IMO for anything with moving parts.

That may apply more to gird connected solar. Apart from inverters and tracking motors, there isn't that much else to do, other than keep the panels clean. They generally have a guaranteed production of 25 yrs typical project life at 95%, then decline to 80-85% over the next 10, but can continue in service in position, or sold off to a second hand market. Minimal moving parts make a huge difference.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

"I feel like we (the public) sometimes get hoodwinked by overly optimistic life cycle costs for green energy."

no way ! say it isn't so !!

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

@SS,

we don't know that the structure had reached it's life limit. We only know that after subsidies were removed the turbine was no longer economic to operate.

Maybe it did need some overhaul, and could've kept operating. Maybe it wasn't designed to be "future proof". Maybe the local council authority could've bought the land and continued operating (uneconomic as it may be) 'cause that's the sort of thing governments do (uneconomic things, 'cause they are "right" to do ... like operating mail service to places that couldn't afford it). Maybe the owner is making a statement ... I wanted to sell the land (and turbine) to the council but they wouldn't buy it, so "eff" them.

another day in paradise, or is paradise one day closer ?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote (rb1957)

We only know that after subsidies were removed the turbine was no longer economic to operate.

Where did you find that info? I wasn't able to find any information regarding the reason for demolition when I looked originally.

Andrew H.
www.MotoTribology.com

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

That just might be a to be a difficult question to answer.

I dont need to know anything more than they were 1 MW (outdated) units, probably not direct drive with large drive train planetary gearing, that were also approaching 20yrs service. Do you expect your car to operate without any maintenance for 10yrs, 15yrs? Why then a wind turbine? It seems like they did quite well with site selection and have found a good place to continue to make money from wind, which is not as easy to do today as it was 20 yrs ago, since now most of the best wind onshore sites have been occupied and there are few remaining to choose from. The time is perfect for some 2 to 3MW machines to take their place.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote:

Wind turbines may have a life shorter than a nuclear plant,however the life cycle cost of each reflect in their value per MW-h and shares of cost billed to the consumer. The lifecycle of each method is well known and based on justifiable experience, not overly optimistic at all.

I brought it up only because of the reference to subsidies and what happens when those dry up.... I'm not claiming any special knowledge here.

Quote:

That may apply more to gird connected solar. Apart from inverters and tracking motors, there isn't that much else to do, other than keep the panels clean. They generally have a guaranteed production of 25 yrs typical project life at 95%, then decline to 80-85% over the next 10, but can continue in service in position, or sold off to a second hand market

I've read the opposite. The solar guys were getting huge subsidies for rooftop solar arrays (at least here in California) and their estimated efficiencies and life span were way, way, way more optimistic than solar panels had ever demonstrated in the past. When I read more about it, every one of those companies was saying, "those were the OLD type of panels that were used, the new ones are much more efficient with much longer life spans". Except that they'd only been around for a couple of years and there was no way to validate their claims. Granted, that was probably 5 years ago that I delved into these claims.

This isn't an argument against solar, just the methods used to "sell" the technology to the public and to earn their subsidies. Gosh, look at Solyndra. It was all smoke and mirrors by sales / marketing folks to con the government into funding a "green energy" technology that was totally unproven. That one was arguably fraud.

Now, there is another (probably better) example of overly optimistic projections: The Ivanpah solar plant in California off the 15 on the way to Las Vegas.
This is actually the type of solar plant that I'm a strong proponent of. However, it spent years operating at a fraction of it's estimated (and contracted) capacity. Only after it was allowed to burn about 4 times the natural gas that it had be previously limited to has it reached the contracted amount of power (but, still somewhat less than the estimated capacity).

Granted, I still believe the 1.6 billion in load guarantees from the US government was probably money well spent in comparison to most of our 'green energy' government expenditures.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Solar power purchase rates by the grid in Spain were good and guaranteed 10% ROI until 2008. After that they've had to make do with almost equal parity. Some discounts at initial purchase, but since Spain's fossil fuel production is hardly measurable, it is well worth not buying the equivalent amount of gas from Algeria. Renewable power now accounts for just over 50% of total, if I'm not mistaken. I haven't seen the most recent stats, so could be more or less.

If I consumed more electricity, I'd think about it, but we don't. Since one does not pay sales tax on self-generated power, that's enough to make solar actually 1 or 2 cents cheaper than grid power and that was before the 20% raise in price that happened last week. In fact, maybe I need to see if its worth it now to start selling all I would not use into the grid. As it is now, I pay more for 2 mobil phones, 300 MBPS fibre and MoviStar-Netflix than all our energy consumption combined, including car gas. My carbon footprint does not even flatten the grass. The temps here are always between 54 and 83°F all the whole year. HVAC consists of opening, or closing the window.

Is Ivanpah a focused solar array? Maybe still experimental, or too far away from consumers?

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

My hunch based on another wind farm that I know of is that they got too the point that it isn't economical to do maintenance on them any longer since they are so small. The newer units require less maintenance, and will be longer lasting.
They may have salvaged some in order to keep part of the field running. It costs less to referb one of these on the ground that to just do a basic inspection in the air. They have data to tell them which units are running the best so they know which ones to save.

The recycle value of these is high. The blades are the only trash, just about everything else has value.

I have seen some work on new units (5kW) that talk about how many years they have to run just to offset the C from the concrete in the foundation. I believe that for the last couple of years wind generation is up to about 32% of nameplate (equivalent to full output for 7.7hrs/day).

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

32% is very high. Must be a good location. Averaging all turbine output over an area the size of Spain for a year seldom passes 20% of nameplate, although in more localized areas it can get to 50% or so, but there are not many areas that are so good. Lowest average I've calculated was 12% in 2006.

I dont know, but the guts of a used 1MW units here wouldn't be worth another can of oil.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

That was US total for 2019 using EIA numbers.
104334 MW capacity and total generation of 295,882,000 MWhr.
https://www.eia.gov/electricity/data.php

In the early years 15% was considered good. It has gotten better over time.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

So what is the cost of installing a foundation (and possibly tower) As well as all of the conductors and controls for gathering/collecting to a central collector station compared to the unit itself? Even though larger units are available now, would there be no merit in replacing the units with something that could reuse the exiting foundations and possibly the towers? If for no other reason than not having to offset the carbon that would be required for the concrete in the new foundations? Maybe the cost of the foundation compared to the overall cost is much smaller than I have imagined and the numbers simply don't support this.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote:

Is Ivanpah a focused solar array? Maybe still experimental, or too far away from consumers?

Focused mirrors to generate steam and spin a conventional steam turbine to generate power. However, it needs to use natural gas for the first hour (or more) of the day to generate the steam. Then lets the sun's energy take over.

Not entirely experimental as there have been other such plants. However, I hear of lots of advances with the technology in recent years. Being too far from consumers, however, is definitely an issue. But, that's partly politics. California has a goal of continuously increasing the amount of power that is "renewable" over the years. For this reason, Ivanpah (I believe) mostly supplies power to the San Francisco bay area which is hundreds of miles away.

Note: California defines renewables as Solar, wind primarily. Might also include biomass and geothermal. But, it doesn't include hydro-electric. If that were included California would already have some 60% of its power from nearly carbon free sources. Though, this may have taken a step back after the decommissioning of the San Onofre nuclear power plant.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

1503-44:

Everything has a design life and project feasibility is very much based on that life cycle cost the election cycle.

Fixed it for you.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Yes 2002. A Bush-Republican tax scam. What a surprise.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

There are some long running focused solar thermal plants in Spain and N Africa.
Some of these have been built with two salt loops, one that directly makes steam and the other that makes steam and then passes through storage tanks. The start with the short loop in the morning and then transition to the steam+storage loop during the day. The stored heat lets them make power a few hours after sunset. The furnace and salt loop require a fair amount of maintenance work, but the rest of the plant is very standard.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =
P.E. Metallurgy, consulting work welcomed

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

I've passed by three of the Spanish plants. Two towers and one parabolic mirror focused on pipe runs. All seem to be doing well and the towers are impressive in the evening sun over the cotton fields.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

The birds there aren't doing quite as well, too many get vaporized.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote:

"I feel like we (the public) sometimes get hoodwinked by overly optimistic life cycle costs for green energy."

Bash away, but the same was said of nuclear power. And while solar panels are relatively clean at the back end, their production isn't necessarily so, as with most semiconductor production.

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RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Then let's talk about construction cost overrruns for nuclear builds and refurbishments. 220% of starting budget is the worldwide average.

"Everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but they are not entitled to their own facts."

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Let's not. Its about as far OT as you can get.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote:

Then let's talk about construction cost overruns for nuclear builds and refurbishments. 220% of starting budget is the worldwide average.

True, but those nuclear plants are usually privately funded by the power companies themselves, right? If so, then they aren't duping anybody but themselves.

My issue is with what appears to be deliberate deception to the owner who's getting rooftop panels, the media who (so that they'll promote the company's "green energy" talking points), or the government that is subsidizing the company's business plan.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Just to be sure, subsidy actually means a "direct payment". So do you mean subsidies, or tax incentives, or other form of grants? Not sure how it works where you are. And isn't there much more of that going on with the direct payments made to farmers, which are not really old guys driving around on tractors farmers, but actually rather giant corporations these days, not to deflect the issue entirely. The swamp is indeed large.

Anyway, we generally don't mind baying for benefits derived from flying, having a roof over our heads, pizza night, or a few beers at the bar, so let's just say that a solar subsidy, if they exist, is similar in that we pay for benefits we have been receiving from the Earth for the last few million years while we conveniently let the collection hat pass us by. Just like maintenance costs of a power plant, they cant be ignored and will eventually catch up with us.

Fraud is an issue for the state attorney general. We won't solve that problem here.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote:

Just to be sure, subsidy actually means a "direct payment". So do you mean subsidies, or tax incentives, or other form of grants?

I was being deliberately vague. Not all subsidies are the same. If the goal is to increase jobs, then the "subsidy" should only kick in once those jobs exist and should disappear when those jobs disappear.

As far as "green energy" goes, I get tired of all the government subsidies for rick people to put solar panels on their homes or buy a fancy (but impractical) electric car. Essentially, the government is subsidizing rich people's "virtue signaling" to their neighbors about how environmentally "woke" they are.

I take a much more "economics" approach to climate change. What is the most efficient way for the government to spend money right now to reduce our carbon emissions within the next couple of years? In terms of $$ per ton of reduction in CO2 emission. The billions of dollars spent subsidizing rich people's solar panels and Teslas are NOT the most efficient use of these funds. A more efficient use of them is to replace coal plants with combined cycle gas turbines or nuclear power.

That doesn't negate some support of these other industries. Like I said earlier, I'm okay with the 1.6 billion in loan guarantees to the Ivanpah solar power plant. You throw a few more plants like this (or a next generation one that is better and more efficient) in places like Arizona and such that has bright sunlight in the months where power usage is highest and you go a long way towards a sustainable low carbon power grid in certain areas.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote (JoshPlumSE)

As far as "green energy" goes, I get tired of all the government subsidies for rick people to put solar panels on their homes or buy a fancy (but impractical) electric car. Essentially, the government is subsidizing rich people's "virtue signaling" to their neighbors about how environmentally "woke" they are.

I understand this sentiment, but is that really the only result? Yes, rich people receive a direct benefit, but isn't the more important thing that is happening is that it is driving the market for these technologies forward? This is producing more research and development so that ultimately these products can become better and more affordable to the masses. These things would never be developed to begin with if (rich) people weren't given incentives to consume them as there are currently much cheaper alternatives.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Quote:

This is producing more research and development so that ultimately these products can become better and more affordable to the masses.
That's certainly a valid point. And, I will acknowledge the importance of that. Certainly we wouldn't be where we are now with electric and/ or hybrid cars without this.

But, if we're talking about most efficient use of government money vs CO2 reduction, then solar panels are not the way to do it. Solar panels are GREAT for people who want to live off the grid and such. Or, have that type of flexibility. But, they will always be a niche market and are unlikely to be a long term solution to our power issues and CO2 emission issues.

RE: "Decommissioning" of a Wind Farm

Are you proposing that we just eat less beef and more alge? Than what is your preferred method of reducing CO2?

Look at NASA. How commercial has that ever been? Forget the subsidy aspect and just make a gov corp. It was an entire industry paid for by gov. Whats the difference between having a gov payroll and just dishing out directly. Same same. And I also don't think you can say we didn't derive many and various benefits from their research and activities. And in 20yrs, I think you will look back and say, glad we did that, or on the other hand if it falls through, you may be hooking up the buggy to a horse wondering what the heck happened to oil and gas.

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