Mass Decommissioning of German Wind Turbines Could Cost Hundreds of Millions of Euro More than Planned, Overwhelm Disposal Capacity

Germany is often lauded as an example that Minnesota should follow by renewable energy supporters, but it turns out Minnesota isn’t the only part of the world that may have an expensive tab to pick up once their wind turbines reach the end of their 20 year useful lifetime.

A new study from the German Federal Environmental Agency has found that the expected dismantling of thousands of old wind turbines in Germany could overburden the country’s recycling capacities and lead to financial difficulties for the turbines’ operators as reserves set aside might have been calculated too low, according to Clean Energy Wire.

“By 2024, about 70,000 tonnes of old blades could pile up annually in Germany alone. Moreover, the reserves set aside by operators could fall short of covering the financial needs by hundreds of millions of euros by 2038, which is why the UBA recommends reviewing the reserves’ calculation base and have them reviewed by independent experts on a regular basis.”

As I have written about before, the steel and copper used in wind turbines are recyclable, but the fiberglass blades are not. This means the final resting place for these blades will be in landfills across the world. In Minnesota, some turbine owners have already shipped their waste wind turbine blades to South Dakota to dispose of them.

It appears Germany, home to approximately 30,000 wind turbines reaching the end of their 20-year guaranteed payments, will have approximately 90,000 turbine blades to dispose of in a similar fashion.

I wonder if Minnesota lawmakers like Lt. Governor Flanagan (DFL) and Senator Dave Senjem (R) learned about this on their trip to Germany last year. I sincerely doubt they did. If they had, it would help them understand that Germany is not an example for Minnesota to follow.