Offshore Wind Turbine Maintenance Cost Fiasco: “100 Times More Expensive Than A New Turbine Itself”!

A press release by Germany’s Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft reports how offshore North and Baltic Sea wind turbines need to be in operation for 25 years before they become profitable, but that they are prone to shortened lifespans due to rust from the harsh sea environment.

As a result the wind turbine installations need extra and very costly maintenance to ensure that they survive long enough. It’s turning out to be an insurmountable challenge.

Maintenance to turbines cannot be done at a dry dock, rather, because they are permanently fixed out to sea, repair work and maintenance have to be done offshore in raw and windy conditions. Not only is this expensive, but it also puts the lives and limbs of repair personnel at risk.

This is the reason engineers and researchers are trying to find ways to better protect offshore wind power systems from the brutal elements. Protection of vulnerable metal surfaces is planned to be achieved by developing and applying new surface films, but this is still very much in development.

100 times the cost of a new turbine

The figure that is especially astonishing about offshore wind power turbines is that the “maintenance and repair costs of offshore wind turbines over the years add up to be a hundred times the cost of the new turbine itself,” says Peter Plagemann of the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Applied Material Science (IFAM) in Bremen.

Plagemann adds (my emphasis):

While a metal coating during the construction of a turbine on land can cost up to 20 to 30 euros per square meter, it can be several thousand euros for offshore turbines.”

This is yet just another huge and costly technical obstacle faced by offshore windparks. It’s going to be an expensive mess come clean-up time.

 

53 responses to “Offshore Wind Turbine Maintenance Cost Fiasco: “100 Times More Expensive Than A New Turbine Itself”!”

  1. DirkH

    It’s the German Moonlanding project: It has no economic benefits whatsoever but it’s expensive, complicated, dangerous and very exciting.
    Let’s try to use it to distract the stoopid masses from the child rapes in their neighbourhood!

    1. Mr Reynard

      Ohhh.. & me silly, thought that it was to SAVE the PLANET ??
      LOL !

  2. sod

    There are two aspects here.

    1. The topic is about painting. The price for painting might be much higher on sea, but the total price is next to irrelevant to the price of the whole machine.

    The same is true for ships. and even for cars. How much more expensive is a paint job as a repair than the original colouring in the factory (for a part that is difficult/impossible to remove from the car, we might get similar factors!)?

    2. there is a real problem with the costs of repairs for offshore wind. Right now, every time a wind plant is build, they also build custom made ships for repairs and for building them. This will change a lot, when more countries start building offshore wind.

    So expect repair (and paint) jobs to significantly drop in the rather near future!

    1. DirkH

      “So expect repair (and paint) jobs to significantly drop in the rather near future!”

      If renewables are economic in the future, as you always tell us, why are we doing a massive rollout in the present?

      (To squirrel away 28 bn EUR a year of ratepayer and taxpayer money, that’s why – into the coffers of political insiders and their cronies.)

      1. sod

        “If renewables are economic in the future, as you always tell us, why are we doing a massive rollout in the present?”

        Because what is driving the costs down are economics of scale, mass production and experience.

        By doing nothing (or only theoretical research), you would not drop the price by a single cent.

        1. DirkH

          Our massive rollout has not brought down the price to economic levels. So we’ve used up the experience curve. What do you suggest? Doubling the numbers per year AGAIN and hope THAT suffices for economics?

          So come on sod, get the coefficients for the experience curves for solar and wind and tell us HOW MANY we need to build so they become economic.

          But wait, again and again you claimed wind *IS* already economic. Now you say, no, it will be in the future?

          You wing it as you go along; you are probably economically dependent on wind turbine subsidies.

        2. Bob Armstrong

          The siren song of the Statist is always suffer now for the “future” .

    2. DirkH

      Oh, and you forgot

      3. Currently, offshore crews wait in containers for weeks for moments when the North Sea is calm enough AND a service ship is available.

      This will change in the future! Because there will be no more heavy sea in the North Sea! Why you ask?

      Because it’s THE FUTURE!

      1. sod

        “This will change in the future! Because there will be no more heavy sea in the North Sea! Why you ask?”

        In the near future, we will have a different situation. Currently we have every single wind park inventing its own solution for repairs and maintenance. It is done by ships that were either not build for that purpose (really difficult) or that were specifically build for this single purpose (really expensive).

        Most of it is done by people, who have zero experience with offshore wind parks, because the majority of the projects is a first for that company.

        In the future, maintenace will be outsourced to companies specialising in that work, using ships and other equipment (robots crawling up the turbine mast) build specifically for that purpose. And this equipment will be made by “mass production” 8as far as the term applies to such specific tools).

        1. Moose

          Please keep on dreaming, as the real world will demolish these wind mills soon now.

          1. David A

            I am so grateful that economic fools like Sod are not in charge.
            Oh fubar!!!,what am I saying, they are!

        2. yonason

          Onshore turbine reliability

          Move them offshore, and…

          “All maintenance personnel and spare parts need to be transported from an onshore port or offshore station to the individual wind turbines by vessels or helicopters. The vessels and helicopters required for these tasks will constitute a major part of the maintenance costs for the offshore wind farms, and to reduce the cost of energy it is essential to keep an optimal or near-optimal vessel fleet for this purpose.”
          http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1876610213012563

          Because specialty helicopter and vessel fleets, which themselves require dedicated on-call highly trained maintenance and operating crews, will very soon become a free service. Hey, it’s THE FUTURE!

          All that nonsense to prevent more plant food from “contaminating” the air. And just to be sure we prevent any unauthorized food from entering the pipeline, we’ll turn it into ethanol to reduce auto mileage.

          What genius thought that up?!

        3. DirkH

          Ah, the fabled robot future will fix it. Yeah, robots will repair broken crap.

          I see you do not have the slightest idea of robotics as well.

          Robots are good where things are NEW and have exactly specified properties.

          Robots are LOUSY when coping with old broken crap of unknown properties.

          That’s why they are not used in repair shops but in factories.

          Now you learned something again. But I’m amazed again about HOW MANY fields you can be ignorant.

    3. yonason

      “The same is true for ships. and even for cars.” – sod

      Don’t get me started! Last time I had my car painted at sea, it cost me a bundle. I’ll never do THAT again.

      As to ships, in port or at sea, most NAVIES take along their own complement of repair crew – they’re called “sailors.”

      “every time a wind plant is build, they also build custom made ships for repairs and for building them.” – sod

      Well, at least they keep some ship builders are employed.

      “So expect repair (and paint) jobs to significantly drop in the rather near future!” – sod

      I’m not holding my breath.

      We could of course have held those expenses to zero from the get-go by just not having wasted resources putting the #%!@$ things up in the first place.

      1. sod

        ” Last time I had my car painted at sea, it cost me a bundle.”

        Did the message go over your head again?

        Look at one of the new cars with that funny and utterly stupid) two colour scheme.

        It will cost you basically nothing to get such a car (in comparison to a “normal” one colour version).

        Now visit your next repair shop and ask them to do the colour scheme on your existing one colour car.and tell me the difference in prices.

        1. yonason

          @sod

          You can’t compare OPTIONAL ELECTIVE silliness with MANDATORY ESSENTIAL maintenance. Well, normal people don’t equate them, in any case.

          No such thing as ‘once and done’ painting of any metallic surfaces at sea.

          “How much more expensive is a paint job at a repair than the original colouring in the factory” – sod

          Yes. Thank you for pointing out that repainting is expensive. And of course routine repainting even more so. I wonder why we didn’t think of that?

        2. DirkH

          “Look at one of the new cars with that funny and utterly stupid) two colour scheme.

          It will cost you basically nothing to get such a car (in comparison to a “normal” one colour version). ”

          So… I’m not surprised… you NEVER USED A CAR CONFIGURATOR TOOL to find out what paint for a new car costs what.

          Hint: Try one.

    4. Analitik

      And of course the installation and maintenance will also be easier as the turbines get bigger (needed to try and make the capacity factor more acceptable)
      /sarc

      It’s funny how no other industries (eg auto, shipping, aerospace) have ever needed this sort of protection from the elements. Otherwise it might be technically difficult to improve on the paints and coating that are used by those sectors…

      And yes, we must have the wind turbine colour match after a repaint/recoat. Better get some detailers out there with sanders and polishers as well to match the peel and reomve any swirls.

    5. old44

      So expect repair (and paint) jobs to significantly drop in the rather near future!

      “Near future” The eternal bleat of Greenies when discussing renewable energy projects.

      Water – salt – rust, who’da thunk it.

      Silly Sod.

  3. Stephen Richards

    I saw a note on Bloomberg today suggesting that North Sea offshore turbine investment by the UK, Holland and Germany has increased massively during 2015 and looks as if it will increase even more in 2016

    1. yonason

      Never underestimate the determination of a complete fool?

  4. yonason

    This study, by someone who supports wind power, comes to the following conclusions…

    1. “Presently achieved reliability levels of onshore wind
    turbines is insufficient for application offshore.” [pretty obvious based on experience]

    2. [summary – we need to improve by a factor of two, but we can do it. GO TEAM!]

    3. “A yearly failure frequency of around one for each turbine prevents the application of such designs for more demanding less accessible sites.” [if, uh, when that happens in winter, weather can prevent them from preforming repairs for 2 months. Wait, what did he say? – ONE FAILURE PER TURBINE PER YEAR!]

    I don’t know why I didn’t invest in this product years ago! //s//

    Simply put, when the service contract for the product costs more than the product, leave it with the cashier, walk out of the store and don’t come back.

    1. Analitik

      I’m sure sod will point out that your link is to a 15 year old report

      1. yonason

        How’s this from 2010?

        “Recent analysis of European onshore wind turbine reliability data has shown that whilst wind turbine mechanical subassemblies tend to have relatively low failure rates but long downtimes, electrical and electronic subassemblies have relatively high failure rates and short downtimes. For onshore wind turbines the higher failure rates of electrical and electronic subassemblies can be managed by a maintenance regime that provides regular and frequent attendance to wind turbine sites. This regime will be costly or impossible to sustain in more remote onshore or offshore wind farm sites.”

        OH, the progress they’ve made!

        ASIDE – 2013 Analysis of planned off$$$$hore wind folly in N.J.

        1. Kie

          Ah, linking to a site funded by no less than the Koch brothers who are vehemently anti-renewables because coal is their thing.

          1. yonason

            I should maybe have used World Wildlie Fund?

          2. yonason

            During the depression, my parents kept themselves warm and cooked their food with coal. I like coal.

            If you have a factual problem, spit it out, otherwise drop the ad-hominem attacks. I personally only use them when I can show that the target of my attack is a schmuck, like WWF
            http://www.c3headlines.com/2010/01/the-wwfs-great-himalayan-snow-job-caught-in-act-by-skeptics-way-back-in-2005.html

            https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/why-would-climate-alarmists-want-to-destroy-the-environment/

            And Greenpeace
            https://news.vice.com/article/drone-footage-shows-extent-of-damage-from-greenpeace-stunt-at-nazca-lines

            And Al Gore
            https://news.vice.com/article/drone-footage-shows-extent-of-damage-from-greenpeace-stunt-at-nazca-lines

            And you are worried about the Koch Bros because they are rich and are for coal? That’s all you’ve got? And you have no problem with Al Gore?
            http://www.noteviljustwrong.com/General/the-nine-lies-of-al-gore.html

          3. slk

            Why is it that greenies fear the Koch brothers? Do they have so much more money than greenies? Not really. Greenies have the government money and blessings. They fear the Koch brothers because these two are included in a small group of people who will not bow down to greenies. Exxon, BP, Chevron, etc all figured out they could make billions from taxpayers putting up worthless turbines while building the backup plants with the tax savings, subsidies and 20 year contracts. Apparently, the Koch brothers did participate in this ruse and are threat to the greens, not because of money, but because they refuse to sell out.

        2. yonason

          IF PIERRE DOESN’T DELETE MY LAST, WHICH IS THE UNEDITED POST, I APOLOGIZE FOR IT. HERE’S THE CORRECT ONE.

          @Kie

          During the depression, my parents families kept themselves warm and cooked their food with coal. I like coal.

          If you have a factual problem, spit it out, otherwise drop the ad-hominem attacks. I personally only use them when I can show that the target of my attack is a schmuck, like WWF
          http://www.c3headlines.com/2010/01/the-wwfs-great-himalayan-snow-job-caught-in-act-by-skeptics-way-back-in-2005.html

          https://stevengoddard.wordpress.com/2015/03/07/why-would-climate-alarmists-want-to-destroy-the-environment/

          And Greenpeace
          https://news.vice.com/article/drone-footage-shows-extent-of-damage-from-greenpeace-stunt-at-nazca-lines

          And Al Gore – liar and crook.
          http://www.noteviljustwrong.com/General/the-nine-lies-of-al-gore.html
          http://directorblue.blogspot.com/2009/10/al-gores-4th-annual-carbon-offset-going.html

          You are worried about the Koch Bros because they are rich and are for coal? That’s all you’ve got.

          Thanks, Kie, for giving me an opening to vent.

  5. ottokring

    Oh DirkH,such cynicism.

    The moon project gave us the non-stick frying pan and a pen that can write upside down.

  6. Carroll Price

    Maintenance cost associated with producing electric power from wind would be about same as producing power by other common methods, such as nuclear, fossil fuel and solar. The cheapest way of producing electric power (by far) is hydro-power.

    1. Analitik

      “maintenance and repair costs of offshore wind turbines over the years add up to be a hundred times the cost of the new turbine itself,”
      So you are saying that the Fraunhofer Institute for Production Technology and Applied Material Science are lying or just a bunch of fools?

      Yes, once set up, a hydro scheme probably does have the lowest running costs for electrical power generation. But are you including the infrastructure (and environment) cost of the hydro installation? It is substantial.

    2. DirkH

      “Maintenance cost associated with producing electric power from wind would be about same as producing power by other common methods, such as nuclear, fossil fuel and solar”

      About the same? Why not a tenth? Why not ten times as much?
      You compare maintaining several thousand wind turbines off shore with maintaining one One GigaWatt GE Mark 1 nuclear reactor? What gives you the idea that maintenance costs are even in the same ballpark?

      1. Colorado Wellington

        Faith.

  7. Mr Reynard

    You can’t fix STUPID !! & you have to be really STUPID to listen to the GREEN?? Morons…

  8. John F. Hultquist

    Sod says “painting” but that’s not quite right. Salt speeds up the process of corrosion – the transfer of electrons from one substance to the other. Paint only hides the result. An approach that does work in some situations is cathodic protection (CP). This works by forcing a protective flow of electrons across the metal. It has been used on many structures and systems including sea going ships, buried pipelines, and even reinforced concrete.
    Yes, the future may show better results. Meanwhile, the many hundreds of towers and turbines that stand near or above the sea will need the costly maintenance or they are destined to fall apart.
    The issue is not new.
    Offshore Cathodic Protection 101

    1. yonason

      ‘Tis but a scratch

      zincs slows corrosion, but don’t prevent it, especially above the water line.

      1. John F. Hultquist
        1. yonason

          Fascinating comments. Thanks!

          Haven’t read ’em all yet, but my favorite comment so far is by R. Watson:
          “I think it was the rust that was holding the thing together.”
          Sounds like something people say to each other about a serious problem that they have to live with, but can’t do anything much about.

  9. Analitik
    1. yonason

      Three isn’t a paint yet made that will stop corrosion at sea. You can slow it down a bit, but that’s all. Metal surfaces require constant maintenance. And the longer you let it go, the worse it gets.

      …unless they make them out of platinum, which, by the time were done paying for this fiasco, would probably have been cheaper to do in the long run.

      But we must forge ahead with wind and solar, because someday they’ll catch up to, and eventually surpass coal and oil. Any day now.

  10. Don

    I prefer Oil, especially Diesel Oils that can be grown on anyone’s property year after year. Fat Oils are an excellent energy source for man and machine alike.

    1. DirkH

      How does fuel expenditure for cultivation and processing compare energetically to the energy gained? I know that given enough subsidies politicians can turn everything into a profitable enterprise for a subsidy taker but what is the EROEI? Honest question because I don’t have the slightest idea.

  11. Greg

    I just read this report, it says nothing about this being only about paint cost. It specifically says total maintenance is 100’s times more than the original total construction cost. Which means that they will never pay themselves off. It probably also means they will never be energy positive.

    1. Graeme No.3

      sod reminds us that there are special ships built for erecting every offshore project, and presumably are involved with the maintenance. When ships require major maintenance they come into dry dock etc. so the obvious answer is to put each offshore turbine on its own ship.
      That way it can come into port when it needs maintenance rather than having crews wait for suitable weather. A further advantage is that when a country tires of paying subsidies the turbine can be re-located to some country where they are still gullible enough to believe in this way of generating electricity.

      The o

      1. Analitik
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  16. StewGreen

    em guys What’s the context of the info of this post ?
    It’s a press release from an institute looking for funding (I guess) to develop a better solution.
    Starting with the 3rd and 4th sentences :

    “This is to succeed in the future better and more cost-effective thanks to innovative materials and technologies. Fraunhofer researchers are developing a protective film for the optimized repair process and develop the necessary criteria for the inspection.” (project title RepaKorr)
    … “This is a major Factor, because the maintenance and repair costs of offshore wind turbines CANcan add up over the years to one hundred times the costs for new construction” *

    …”In addition, the project partners AirRobot GmbH explores ways with drones to inspect coatings and determine the repairs needed.
    … By RepaKorr these costs are to be reduced significantly.”

    Info in English
    * The 100X claim is not substantiated
    the PDF is just the same as the webpage

    1. sod

      “* The 100X claim is not substantiated
      the PDF is just the same as the webpage”

      as i said above, this is for painting. Having your car repainted can be much more expensive than the original paint during production (no surprise).

      The idea that repairs of wind turbines could cause 100x the original price is obviously plain out stupid. It is accepted here, because most comments here really hate wind power and accept any negative information about it.

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