Keeping offshore windfarms sustainable in the afterlife

10 December 2018 - Published by Jonas Nørgård Larsen
Circular economy: EU’s Interreg North Sea will fund project to develop eco-innovative concepts for the end-of-life for offshore wind energy farms.

Offshore wind is one of the most sustainable energy sources known.

Ideally, offshore wind should also be sustainable in the afterlife – and that is the exact objective for the DecomTools project involving 13 European partners.

DecomTools aims to work on a logistic improvement to the dismantling of deteriorating offshore wind farms and keeping the CO2 emissions associated with this as low as possible. Partners from Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the Netherlands, England and Norway are all involved in the project backed by the Interreg North Sea Region Programme with a 4.7-million-euro budget.

Most offshore wind farms have an effective life span of 20 to 25 years, upon which the park should either be replaced by modern components (repowered) or decommissioned with a sensible dispose of individual components.

“We are trying to discover the conditions under which repowering is technically possible and economically sensible,” says Dr. Stephan Kotzur, Director of the Institute of Logistics at the University of Applied Sciences, Emden/Leer (HILOG); the lead partner in DecomTools alongside the faculty of Maritime Studies.

Reduced footprint
Whether repowering or decommissioning, the dismantling of the redundant parts should be carried out cost-efficiently and with a minimized environmental footprint, says Prof. Dr. Marcus Bentin, Dean of the Faculty of Maritime Studies:
“Cutting costs and reducing CO2 from the dismantled parts is a key objective within the project”, he says.

The research will be supported by validation projects in the Netherlands, Belgium and Denmark, taking in oil and gas decommissioning experiences from partners in the UK and Norway.

The national Danish innovation network for energy production, Energy Innovation Cluster, sees a big potential in the DecomTool-project:

“The environmental footprint from dismantling an offshore wind farm is quite far from reflecting the positive effect made by the wind farm whilst in production. By applying ideas from the circular economy, the DeComTools-project aims to find cost-effective and environmentally sustainable solutions for the industry”, says Glenda Napier, CEO at Energy Innovation Cluster, one of the 13 partnering organisations behind the project.

About Interreg
Interreg is part of the structural and investment policy of the European Union. Interreg has been helping to support international collaborations between regions and cities for more than 20 years; collaborations which have an influence on daily life, for example on traffic, on the job market, and on environmental protection.

About Interreg North Sea Region
The overall aim is to support development and foster sustained economic growth across the North Sea Region. The program help enterprises, institutions, public administrations, NGOs and others to pool their expertise, share their experience and cooperate to develop realistic solutions to problems shared by organizations across the region. The total budget of the program is 167m Euros that is allocated to four prioritized themes: Thinking Growth, Eco-innovation, Sustainable NSR, and Green Transport and Mobility.