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Decommissioning Case Study: Circular Economy in the Wind Sector – Materials Mapping

Published 17 June 2024


The Circular Economy for the Wind Sector joint industry programme (CEWS) recognises that there are significant challenges for decommissioning offshore wind, and a looming materials crisis for new builds. To date, decommissioning of offshore wind turbines has been restricted to low numbers of demonstration turbines and individual turbines damaged beyond economic repair.

The Challenge

The offshore wind sector is fast approaching the point where the earliest wind farms in the UK and across Europe will be decommissioned. With this major milestone there are several key considerations around the supply chain readiness to handle the materials arising in the most environmentally sustainable manner. ORE Catapult developed the CEWS programme as an industry-wide initiative to investigate the barriers and opportunities for a sustainable approach to decommissioning.

Materials Mapping Case Study

A generic 2MW geared and direct drive turbine have been estimated as a baseline for the current and future potential onward routes for materials. As the majority of components are the same between both turbine types, this was also applied to the direct drive breakdown, although the smallest turbine capacity offshore is 6MW. The findings use the waste hierarchy to estimate the relative environmental impact of different routes and identify gaps in both technologies and capacities for handling the types and volumes of waste that will arise.

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