28% of Germany’s Wind Turbines are Wearing Out
Germany started installing wind turbines, during the mid 1990’s, to produce electric energy on their grid. They have about 25,000 wind turbines in operation this year. Of the 25,000 turbines about 7,000 will have been in operation for more than 15 years. A decision is needed during 2016 as to 1. Initiate costly repair for the old machines or 2.Begin replacing the machine with new ones. Currently Germany has been replacing the old rotor blades with new ones. The old blades are being reprocessed in industrial scale factories and then shredded and mixed with other waste. The final product is used as a fuel to manufacture cement.
According to Wind-Research, a market research company, it makes sense to replace the old machines with new ones. The new machines are more efficient than the old ones. However, the cost to decommission one turbine can run upwards of $33,000. Beyond a period of 20 years, the guaranteed tariffs that are set for wind power are terminated, thereby making them unprofitable.
The U.S. has 48,000 utility operated wind turbines this year. The U.S. is going to face the same turbine maintenance problems in 8 to 10 years as Germany is facing now.