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World's First Offshore Wind Farm Dismantled

Thursday, September 7, 2017

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The world’s first offshore wind farm, a pioneer of renewable energy, has been decommissioned and dismantled after 25 years in operation.

The Vindeby wind farm, located off of the southeastern coast of Denmark, was built in 1991 by Elkraft, which later became DONG Energy (Fredericia, Denmark), as a demonstration of the potential of offshore wind power generation. The decommissioning process began in March, and all 11 of the 450-kilowatt stall-controlled wind turbines have been completely dismantled.

Decommissioning Decision

DONG Energy, Vindeby’s owner and operator, decided to decommission the wind farm after some review and discussion. According to the company, the world’s first offshore array had lasted longer than expected, but many parts, including the gearboxes, had worn down over the years. The decision to decommission was a straightforward one.

What was not so straightforward, however, was how to take down the turbines.

"This is the first time we're dismantling an offshore wind farm, but luckily, we've been able to draw on our vast experience from constructing offshore wind farms and working offshore," Leif Winther, Senior Lead Business Developer for DONG Energy, said in a statement.

"In cooperation with the winning contractors, we developed the dismantling method and entered a long process with the authorities to obtain all necessary permits,” he added.

Decommissioning Process

With water depths ranging from 6 to 16 feet, the boats used in the endeavor had to be small.

First, one blade was removed, then a cell with the remaining blades, and finally, the tower itself came down. Each of these parts were loaded onto a barge using a crane, mounted on a jackup vessel.

The concrete gravity foundations, each weighing up to 480 tons, had to be broken up into smaller pieces using milling equipment and hydraulic demolition shears. As the broken-down concrete was collected and shipped away, the cables connecting the wind farm were also taken down.

DONG Energy

The world’s first offshore wind farm, a pioneer of renewable energy, has been decommissioned and dismantled after 25 years in operation.

One of the turbines was donated to the Danish Museum of Energy, but the rest of the turbines and their parts have been slated for reuse and research, including parts of the concrete foundations. This material is of interest to researchers because of its long-term exposure to a marine environment, which can help determine future concrete formulations, treatment options and service life for future endeavors.

Vindeby Wind Farm and Future Projects

When the wind farm was originally constructed, the company noted, the turbines were lifted into place in one piece. Each of the foundations were cast on shore, and later placed on the seabed.

Originally, moving wind turbines offshore posed a number of challenges, including corrosion prevention. Each turbine was coated with anticorrosive paint, and was also equipped with dehumidifiers and heat exchangers. Each tower was also built with airtight towers and nacelles.

During its lifespan, the wind farm provided green energy to almost 2,200 households, and produced 243 gigawatt hours.

DONG Energy is currently working on its next wind turbine project, Hornsea Project One, which is slated for completion in 2020 and is projected to provide electricity for one million households. 


Tagged categories: Corrosion protection; Wind Towers

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