The true costs of decommissioning: How innovation and preparation can reduce the high cost of decommissioning

Emilie Reeve, Dan Kyle-Spearman, Jan Matthiesen
Carbon Trust, London, UK


In an industry where we are seeing rapid development of large scale wind farms with a 25 year plus lifetime it is natural that the industry isn't yet focussed on how to decommission these wind farms. However we are now seeing more and more met masts and early installed wind farms being decommissioned at extremely high costs. The Carbon Trust has undertaken a study reviewing the costs, barriers and opportunities of decommissioning. The conclusion was that the supply chain is not prepared for offshore wind decommissioning and there is no fit for purpose technology so the costs are extremely high. Decommissioning activities will continue to increase in the next 10-15 years and there is an opportunity to develop the appropriate tools and methdologies to support future large scale decommissioning activities, however this needs to be started now in order to ensure the tools are sufficiently developed and tested.

Carbon Trust will present some  innovative approaches that have the potential to de-risk and reduce the cost of decommissioning.


Carbon Trust undertook a literature review and spoke with a number of offshore wind developers and the supply chain in order to gather an evidence base of the current decommissioning activity.


A study undertaken by the Carbon Trust demonstrated that the industry will start seeing larger scale decommissioning within the next 10 to 15 years. At present it's expected that the costs of decommissioning would be equivalent to approximately 65-70% of the installation cost, which is excessive. Through discussions with developers and industry Carbon Trust has identified the opportunity for innovation to considerably decrease the cost of decommissioning, in large by reducing the dependency on a costly heavy lift vessel. However these innovations will need to be developed trialled and tested in advance of the large scale decommissioning activity in order to achieve the necessary cost reduction.


Decommissioning needs to be considered now, in order to ensure the industry doesn't pay excessive costs later. There are a number of innovations that hold the potential to radically reduce the cost of decommissioning however sufficient time is needed to develop these and ensure they can meet the necessary requirements.


The audience will learn about the current decommissioning activities, costs and technologies used; how decommissioning is becoming a focus area for the industry and the opportunities to reduce the costs and de-risk decommissioning through innovation.