New subsidies for ageing European wind farms, or death spiral?

German wind farm

Good luck dismantling and trying to recycle redundant end-of-life wind turbines and their massive concrete bases.

New academic research on whether to repower or extend the lifetime of an obsolescent wind farm in Europe reveals that without new subsidies for repowered sites, low cost lifetime extensions focused on maximising return before decommissioning are more probable, with a potential to affect about half the wind turbine fleet in Germany, Spain and Denmark.

In the absence of new subsidies, we could be looking at the beginning of the end for the wind industry in Europe, says The GWPF’s energy editor.

In March this year the renewables policy cheerleaders, the Energy and Climate Intelligence Unit (ECIU), which is predominantly funded by the European Climate Foundation and the Grantham Foundation, published a study, Repower to the People, claiming that the UK could and should repower some sixty onshore wind farms over the next five years and so gain a net increase in capacity of more than 1.3 GW.

The paper did not examine the underlying economics and policy context of decisions to repower, and relied simply on the reader’s naïve enthusiasm for technological progress when confronted with the fact that, for example, contemporary turbines are two to three times the capacity (2–3 MW) of the previous generation (< 1 MW), with the latest models approaching 4 MW.

Bigger must surely be better, especially given the obvious economies:

As well as offering simplicities and potentially lower costs compared with developing a new site, repowering is also logical given that many of the earliest wind farms are in locations that have the best wind resource. (Repower to the People, p. 4.)

Sympathetic MPs were produced to provide quotations in the press suggesting that it was simply a question of government removing the obstacles to this commonsense development, with Mr Simon Clarke, the Conservative Party’s MP for Middlesborough South and East Cleveland, being reported as observing that:

For those worried about the 1 per cent of UK gas imports that come from Mr Putin, these upgrades would also reduce our reliance on imported fuel by the equivalent of two gas-fired power stations; and if we don’t allow developers to repower them, we may lose them for good. (Utility Week, 27.03.18)

There is of course nothing to stop developers repowering such sites, except that there are no subsidies available, and without such subsidies the low market prices probable over the next decade are insufficient to motivate re-investment.

Furthermore, the owners seeking to repower would have to apply for a new planning consent, which would be problematic now that the unneighbourliness of large wind turbines is notorious.

Continued here.

via Tallbloke’s Talkshop

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May 13, 2018 at 01:30PM

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