Cost Comparison: Decommissioning a Wind Turbine vs. Plugging & Abandoning an Oil Well

Guest “Coin toss” by David Middleton

A recurring theme in comments sections of WUWT posts are arguments about the costs of decommissioning wind turbines vs the costs of plugging and abandoning oil wells; so I thought I would take a look at the numbers…

Wind Turbines

The Cost of Decommissioning Wind Turbines is Huge

NOVEMBER 1, 2019

In Minnesota, Xcel Energy estimates conservatively that it will cost $532,000 (in 2019 dollars) to decommission each of its wind turbines—a total cost of $71 million to decommission the 134 turbines in operation at its Noble facility. Decommissioning the Palmer’s Creek Wind facility in Chippewa County, Minnesota, is estimated to cost $7,385,822 for decommissioning the 18 wind turbines operating at that site, for a cost of $410,000 per turbine.


Institute for Energy Research

Retiring worn-out wind turbines could cost billions that nobody has

Feb 21, 2017

By: RICK KELLEY Staff Writer

Valley Morning Star

HARLINGEN – This is a story about death and resurrection, and as with all such stories, faith plays its part.

Texas is by far the leading wind energy producer in the United States, generating more than 20,000 megawatts of electricity each year. That is about one-fourth of the nation’s wind-energy production.

We can expect the Texas winds to blow forever, but the colossal turbines which capture the breeze and transform it into electricity will not turn forever. Like all mechanical things devised by man, no matter how clever, they eventually wear out.

But the question is, what will this mean to the landscape and future of the Rio Grande Valley and, in particular, the counties of Willacy and Cameron?


Wind turbine: The life and death

The life span of a wind turbine, power companies say, is between 20 and 25 years. But in Europe, with a much longer history of wind power generation, the life of a turbine appears to be somewhat less.

“We don’t know with certainty the life spans of current turbines,” said Lisa Linowes, executive director of WindAction Group, a nonprofit which studies landowner rights and the impact of the wind energy industry. Its funding, according to its website, comes from environmentalists, energy experts and public donations and not the fossil fuel industry.

Linowes said most of the wind turbines operating within the United States have been put in place within the past 10 years. In Texas, most have become operational since 2005.

“So we’re coming in on 10 years of life and we’re seeing blades need to be replaced, cells need to be replaced, so it’s unlikely they’re going to get 20 years out of these turbines,” she said.

Estimates put the tear-down cost of a single modern wind turbine, which can rise from 250 to 500 feet above the ground, at $200,000.


In Texas, with virtually no regulatory oversight of wind farms, there is no requirement for wind companies to set aside any funds for decommissioning.


Energy Central

It appears that the cost to decommission a single wind turbine in the U.S. can range from $200,000 to $532,000.

Salvage Value

The decommissioned wind turbines will have some salvage value. Some claim that the salvage value will exceed the decommissioning costs. Since most U.S. wind turbines were installed since 2005, there doesn’t appear to be a lot of data on actual salvage values realized. The Decommissioning Report in the 2008 application for the Buffalo Ridge II Wind Farm in South Dakota, projected an average decommissioning cost of $90,805 per wind turbine, with an average salvage value of $79,355 per wind turbine.

Decommissioning estimate for the Project:
General Conditions  $   1,433,620
Operation & Maintenance Buildings  $        94,804
Substation Deconstruction  $        64,349
Towers, Wind Turbine Deconstruction Access Road Preparation  $      780,249
Blade Disposal  $   2,030,463
Foundation Removal  $   2,556,964
Site Restoration  $   2,633,421
Tower Dismantle and Salvage Preparation  $   6,387,298
Transmission Line and Pole Removal  $      155,495
Total estimated decommissioning cost  $ 14,543,889
Total estimated decommissioning cost/turbine  $        90,805
Salvage value/wind turbine  $       (79,355)
Total net decommissioning cost per wind turbine minus salvage value  $        11,450

The estimated future salvage value was ~87% of the estimated decommissioning cost in this permit application. Let’s apply this to the more recent decommissioning estimates.

Decom. CostSalvage Val.Net Cost
 $      200,000 $      (174,781) $ 25,219
 $      532,000 $      (464,918) $ 67,082

Assuming a robust salvage value, the net decommissioning cost would range from $25,000 to $67,000 per wind turbine.

Oil Wells

Since the cost of plugging and abandoning (P&A) oil wells can vary widely and most are responsibly P&A’ed by their operators, I will focus on “orphaned wells.”

Abandoned Wells
What happens to oil and gas wells when they are no longer productive?

Petroleum and the Environment, Part 7/24
Written by E. Allison and B. Mandler for AGI, 2018


In 2017, there were one million active oil and gas wells in the United States.1 When a well reaches the end of its productive life, or if it fails to find economic quantities of oil or gas, the well operator is required by regulators to remove all equipment and plug the well to prevent leaks.2 Usually, cement is pumped into the well to fill at least the top and bottom portions of the well and any parts where oil, gas, or water may leak into or out of the well. This generally prevents contamination of groundwater and leaks at the surface. State or federal regulators define specific plugging procedures depending on the local conditions and risks, and may monitor the plugging operation.

However, there are many cases in which wells are not properly plugged before being abandoned, especially if the well operator goes bankrupt, leaving its wells “orphaned”.3 This is more common when oil prices fall rapidly, making many wells uneconomical, as in the 1980s oil glut, the 2008 financial crisis, and the 2014 downturn.

In the late 1980s, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency estimated that 200,000 of 1.2 million abandoned wells may not have been properly plugged.4 Since then, tens of thousands of orphaned wells have been plugged by state and federal regulators, as well as some voluntary industry programs. These efforts are ongoing, and many orphaned wells have yet to be properly plugged. The exact number is not known: some 3.7 million wells have been drilled in the U.S. since 1859,6 and their history is not always well documented. Older wells, especially those drilled before the 1950s, are particularly likely to have been improperly abandoned and poorly documented.


Abandoned Well Plugging Campaigns

For several decades, states have increased enforcement of plugging and cleanup requirements. States generally require a performance bond or other financial assurance from the operator that a well will be plugged and the well site restored. However, bond amounts may not meet the plugging and cleanup expenses if an operator goes bankrupt.11 Most states therefore collect fees or a production surcharge from operators specifically for remediation of orphaned wells and associated surface equipment.12 For example, Pennsylvania adds an orphaned well surcharge to drilling permit application fees,14 while Texas adds a 5/8-cent Oil Field Cleanup surcharge to the state’s 4.6% oil production tax.15 The Oklahoma Energy Resources Board remediates abandoned well sites using voluntary industry contributions amounting to 0.1% of oil and gas sales.16


American Geosciences Institute

Orphaned wells are a problem. It is mostly associated with very old, poorly documented wells. Wells can also be orphaned when the operators go bankrupt. States currently require some level of bonding and levy taxes and surcharges specifically to fund P&A work on orphaned wells. States also carry out ongoing P&A programs for orphaned wells. AGI sites specific numbers for state and federal P&A programs. Carbon Tracker, an AGW agitator group, claims that the cost to P&A an average orphaned well is nearly $150,000.

Let’s compare Carbon Tracker’s fantasy to the real world.

 Total P&A Liability  Wells  P&A/Well 
Carbon Tracker $      117,000,000,000   783,000 $     149,425
TX 1984-2008 $              163,000,000     35,000 $         4,657
TX 2017 $                11,600,000           918 $       12,636
OK since 1994 $              100,000,000     15,000 $         6,667
CA since 1977 $                27,000,000        1,350 $       20,000
BLM 1988-2009 $                   3,800,000           295 $       12,881
Real World $              305,400,000     52,563 $         5,810

A presentation at the 13th Annual Ryder Scott Reserves Conference cited Texas Railroad Commission numbers for 2013-2017:

 Wells   Cost (millions)  P&A/Well 
2013            778 $                 20.9 $       26,900
2014            563 $                 15.0 $       26,600
2015            692 $                 10.7 $       15,500
2016            544 $                   8.5 $       15,700
Jan-June 2017            223 $                   2.4 $       10,800
Real World        2,800 $                 57.5 $       20,536

$5,800 to $20,500 per well is just a bit less than $150k/well. But, P&A costs for individual wells can vary widely.

What happens to orphaned wells? At least four things can happen, only one of which involves taxpayer money.

Things that can happen to Orphaned Wells
• Plugged or brought back to production by
current operator
• Brought back to production by a new operator
• Surface owner can plug well
• Railroad Commission plugs well

Ryder Scott

Where do states get the money to P&A orphaned wells?

Sources of Money used by RRC to fund
orphan well plugging

• Recovered from responsible party
• Recovered from salvaged equipment
• Recovered from performance bonds, letters of
credit, and cash deposits
• Taxes and fees paid by industry and public

13th Annual Ryder Scott Reserves Conference

Between 1997 and 2014, it cost the State of Wyoming $11 million in total to plug orphaned wells, and only $3 million was covered by bonds. The other $8 million came from the conservation tax fund—a state tax levied on oil and gas production that funds the regulatory agency that oversees the industry and pays for things like well plugging.

The Rising Cost Of Cleaning Up After Oil And Gas

From 2007-2019, Texas oil & gas well operators paid the state over $149 billion in taxes and royalties on oil & gas production.

“Last year alone, the Texas oil and natural gas industry paid the equivalent of $38 million a day to fund our schools, roads, universities and first responders,” said Todd Staples, president of TXOGA. “More tax and royalty revenue from the oil and natural gas industry means our lawmakers have more to work with to meet the needs of our growing state.”

In fiscal year 2018, Texas school districts received $1.24 billion in property taxes from mineral properties producing oil and natural gas, pipelines, and gas utilities.  Counties received $366.5 million in oil and natural gas mineral property taxes.

“In addition to taxes and royalties, Texas oil and natural gas companies are investing billions in advanced technologies that are protecting and improving our environment – proof that we can grow our economy, protect the environment and enhance our energy security at the same time,” Staples said. U.S. CO2 emissions are near 20-year lows and methane emissions from oil and natural gas systems are down 14 percent since 1990 – all while production has skyrocketed.

State royalties paid by the oil and natural gas industry in fiscal year 2018 increased 18 percent to a total of $2 billion, money that is used to capitalize the Permanent School Fund (PSF), which benefits the public schools of Texas, and the Permanent University Fund (PUF), which benefits public higher education in Texas. Oil and natural gas royalties constitute the only substantive new money deposited annually to the PSF and PUF, according to Staples.

“What’s remarkable to me is that the Texas Permanent School Fund, seldom recognized outside of Texas, leads the pack among ALL educational endowments in the country,” he said. “With a balance of $44 billion at the end of fiscal year 2018, the PSF is the largest educational endowment in the nation – bigger than Harvard University’s endowment worth $39.2 billion.”

Texas Oil and Natural Gas Industry Paid More than $14 Billion in Taxes and Royalties in 2018, Up 27% from 2017

What’s even more remarkable than the fossil fueled Texas Permanent School Fund being the largest educational endowment in the country? Over-educated idiots at the University of Texas in the Peoples Republic of Travis County are actually demanding that the UT System divest from fossil fuels. I schist you not.

In 2019, Texas oil & gas producers paid over $16 billion in taxes and royalties. This is how the state spent 25% of the revenue:

FY2019 Billions 
Taxes & Royalties Paid $    16.28
School Districts $       1.549%
Counties $       0.402%
Permanent University Fund $       1.026%
Permanent School Fund $       1.117%
TX RRC P&A $       0.030.21%
TX RRC Pollution Clean Up $       0.000.01%

In FY2019, the Texas Railroad Commission spent about $35 million on P&A work for orphaned wells and about $2 million on oil & gas related pollution abatement. This amounts to less than 0.3% of the taxes and royalty revenue the state generated from oil & gas production.

 Total   Wells  P&A/Well 
FY2019 $  34,942,911         1,710 $       20,434

The average P&A cost over recent years has been around $20,000 per well. Taxes and fees already paid by oil & gas producers comfortably cover these costs.


Comparisons of wind turbine decommissioning costs and oil well P&A work are somewhat “apples & oranges”. However, they both appear to fall into similar ranges. The main difference is that oil & gas producers generally pay far more in taxes, specifically designed to cover orphaned wells, than the actual abandonment costs. As nearly as I can tell, wind farm operators aren’t burdened with similar taxes.

The oil well abandonment section was largely reproduced from this post: Carbon Tracker Fantasy: “Cleanup of abandoned oil and gas wells could cost Texans $117 billion”

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August 29, 2021 10:24 pm

It would be interesting to see the decommissioning cost per total energy generated over the lifetime and compare to some of the large nuclear plants that have been decommissioned.

Reply to  Kevin
August 30, 2021 1:01 am

Well the cost is huge:

UK’s nuclear sites costing taxpayers ‘astronomical sums’, say MPs | Nuclear waste | The Guardian

The NDA’s most recent estimate is that it will cost current and future generations of UK taxpayers £132bn to decommission the civil nuclear sites, with the work not being completed for another 120 years.

Since 2017, the NDA’s upper estimate of the cost of the 12-15-year programme just to get the sites to the ”‘care and maintenance” stage of the decommissioning process has increased by £3.1bn to £8.7bn. 

Leo Smith
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 1:57 am

Griff sweetie pie, the Guardian doesnt inform, it misinforms.
‘Decomissionsing’ is a word defined by politics, not engineering.

The best thing to do with an old reactor is to build a newer one in its place, anyway.

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 4:03 am

Fake figures from a fake newspaper.

Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 7:58 am

“Total net decommissioning cost per wind turbine minus salvage value  $       11,450”
That wouldn’t cover the jackhammer rental to demolish the concrete base….the stated salvage values are complete nonsense.

Reply to  DMacKenzie
August 30, 2021 5:17 pm

That application for a permit is completely fraudulent.

No wonder Texas has required so few decommissioning bonds. They were snowed into believing people would be clamoring to be allowed to salvage expired turbines.

Joe Public
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 5:07 am

What did the late Sir David John Cameron MacKay Kt FRS FInstP FICE, British physicist, mathematician, and academic who was the Regius Professor of Engineering in the Department of Engineering at the University of Cambridge and from 2009 to 2014 was Chief Scientific Advisor to the UK Department of Energy and Climate Change have to say about nuclear decommissioning?

“Economics of cleanup

What’s the cost of cleaning up nuclear power sites? The nuclear decommissioning authority has an annual budget of £2 billion for the next 25 years. The nuclear industry sold everyone in the UK 4 kWh/d for about 25 years, so the nuclear decommissioning authority’s cost is 2.3 p/kWh. That’s a hefty subsidy – though not, it must be said, as hefty as the subsidy currently given to offshore wind (7 p/kWh).”

Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  griff
August 31, 2021 12:02 am

A great deal of nuclear plant decommissioning cost is imputed to dealing with the spent fuel, and other radioactive waste. That cost, in the United States, is an unforced error on the part of a President (Jimmy Carter) who is allegedly a nuclear engineer (he was trained as a reactor operator aboard U.S. Navy nuclear powered ships – hardly Enrico Fermi [or even Enrico Pallazzo]). He was told that spent reactor fuel could easily be reprocessed to produce weapons grade material. It can’t. It can easily be reprocessed for use as new reactor fuel, which the French have been doing forever.

But even if we didn’t do that, we have already built the Yucca Mountain waste storage facility, which can hold all of the waste we have and then some for 1 million years. Yes, the Department of Energy’s final report actually says that. It is only a political deal that Obama made with Harry Reid, now a political non-entity, that did away with Yucca Mountain.

Since we have burdened ourselves unnecessarily with unreprocessed nuclear waste, yes, costs are escalating. But consider this: the elements which make nuclear waste so badass are called “transuranics.” The anti-science left are terrified of them. Does that mean, griff, that our nuclear waste problem is due to trans-phobia?

Reply to  Michael S. Kelly
August 31, 2021 6:38 am

well played sir

Reply to  Kevin
August 30, 2021 4:59 pm

The energy spent on decommissioning wind turbines is calculated here:

Life Cycle Assessment of Electricity Production from an onshore V150-4.2 MW Wind Plant

This is another example of a document that you need to engage with.

Reply to  Kevin
August 31, 2021 6:37 am

why decommission them? fission plants last forever, if maintained

ours is over 30 years old

Alexy Scherbakoff
August 29, 2021 10:32 pm

I’m not a fan of windmills. Would there be a need to totally decommission a site? I presume the farm would be positioned in an ideal location. Would repairs and maintenance be a feasible proposition? Could it be like an axe that has been in a family for 5 generations and only had the head replaced 3 times and the handle 5 times? It’s the same axe.

Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 29, 2021 11:34 pm

Not so far. Old turbines are obsolete technology. Like trying today to build a $400 1920s model Ford from scratch might cost $400K, there’s no economic point to rebuilding a retired turbine. The thing to do would be to upgrade to a modern design with greater capacity. Recent efforts in New Mexico to re-use an aready sited wind “farm” are showing that the environmentally approved and grandfathered site is more valuable to the new operator than any of the old equipment — which was all demolished and is being carted away so that new turbines (larger, fewer in number and much more expensive) can go in. So to your analogy, after upgrades, the five generation family axe is now a multimillion dollar automated woodcutting machine with a megawatt diesel engine operated by hydraulics using computer control (and a 6-month operator’s certification course, licensing, insurance, and a lifetime proprietary service contract with the manufacturer).
Given an estimated 25 year life span for a turbine, which is inadequate to the design need from the start, obsolescence is almost guaranteed before retirement.

Reply to  dk_
August 30, 2021 1:03 am

It depends whether you are talking turbine at end of 25 year life, or one replaced during upgrading… those are younger and often re-used

Leo Smith
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 1:57 am

Very few turbines reach 25 years. Many do not reach 15 years.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Leo Smith
August 30, 2021 8:45 am

Yes, in Germany the industry is is starting to worry that up to 16GW of existing wind farms will reach 20 years of life by 2025 whilst there is a lack of new sites, a significant decline in permits granted and far more challenges in court to projects that gain permits.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 30, 2021 6:10 pm

From what I read a few weeks ago, the lifespan of a wind turbine in Germany is no greater than the lifespan of the subsidy supporting it

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 4:31 am

When do you recover the capital costs if you’re constantly upgrading!

Bryan A
Reply to  Lrp
August 30, 2021 12:45 pm

Wind Turbines are a Black Hole into which you Throw Money

Reply to  Bryan A
August 30, 2021 4:23 pm

The problem is, the money they are tossing into that hole, isn’t their own.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 7:23 pm

I have a.subsidy but I need cash now
Call EZWentWorth (877) CASHCOW
Who pays your subsidy
8 7 7 CASHCOW call now

Mark D
Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2021 5:59 pm

Had I known this was possible when I was throwing money into a 46′ sailboat hole I might have developed a scam to have kept her lovely lines.

Reply to  Bryan A
August 30, 2021 4:31 pm

  In Ontario, I’m told that the original owners of industrial wind turbine facilities sold many 10 year old turbines to the Canadian Pension Plan. Now CPP will be responsible for the dismantling and disposal of old turbines….there is no fund for the disposal of old wind turbine waste. If CPP pays for disposal, it will be paid for by pensioners across Canada. If Ontario eventually absorbs the cost, it will be paid for by Ontario taxpayers or electricity ratepayers.

Is this true?

Bryan A
Reply to  Sommer
August 31, 2021 6:04 am

Would imagine so, if they bought the asset they bought both the liability and responsibility

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 6:07 am

Who in their right mind would buy a used windmill that has already had 90% of it’s useful life consumed?

Dave Andrews
Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 8:39 am

griff obviously.

Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 30, 2021 4:23 pm

I did specify “in their right mind”. I’m pretty sure that excludes griff.

Bryan A
Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 31, 2021 6:05 am

So someone in their Left Mind

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 8:43 pm

It sounds like some kind of scam to me.

Reply to  Clyde Spencer
September 2, 2021 10:22 pm

Really? wow they sure fooled us (or at least some of us)

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 6:32 am

Fifty years in the Electrical Power Generation industry. 10 years of which was in the construction of power plants. Of the various companies I worked for the control systems and a large portion of the equipment for ALL of the plants built was basically OBSOLETE, and not available by the time the plant was declared operational. Ten years from concept to design, another ten years from design to construction, By the time they are declared Operational. the only way to get spare parts is from salvaging parts from replaced facilities and equipment.
Yes, Wind Turbines will have a shorter concept to operational timeline, BUT the design changes and the period of availability of spare parts is also much shorter.
Take a home solar panel installation on your roof. After ten years, it is highly doubtful that you will be able to get several new panels with the same internal resistance and other important characteristics to place them in the series/parallel configuration with the rest of them still operational. I have heard stories that replacement identical panels were longer just one year after installation.

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 5:23 pm

Give explicit examples where replaced turbines have been bought, moved and reused.
Details, links, storyline, all are critical or like most of your nonsense, no-one will believe you..

Like, exactly how did they remove the blades without breaking the UV leached fiberglass?

How do they manage to open the UV leached fiberglass casing?

Who drained all of the oil and what did they do with the horrible but critically required fossil fuel oil?

Exactly how did they get a crane in to remove the bearings and how were they prepared for travel so the weight of the whole bearing doesn’t damage the bearing surfaces?

In fact all of the details regarding why someone would be so foolish?

Last edited 21 days ago by ATheoK
Craig from Oz
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 9:54 pm

…those are younger and often re-used…

And here we are. Griff is admitting that turbines do not last the 25 years claimed by their fans (pun not intended).

Well done, Griff. You have broken clocked it.

Joao Martins
Reply to  dk_
August 30, 2021 3:09 am


I wonder what happens when “decommissioning” off-shore wind farms…

Last edited 22 days ago by Joao Martins
Reply to  Joao Martins
August 30, 2021 4:53 am

Some idle speculation (I am not a lawyer):

1 – Dynamite them and call them artificial reefs. That sounds environmentally friendly whether it actually is or not.

2 – Topple the top part into the sea and use the bottom part as a micronation like SeaLand.

If they’re outside of national waters, they could escape regulatory control.

Reply to  commieBob
August 30, 2021 7:33 am

Thanks Bob, I just had a nice visit to Sealand via wiki.

Love the new things you can learn here.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  commieBob
August 30, 2021 8:47 pm

1 – Dynamite them and call them artificial reefs.

I see that we think alike.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Joao Martins
August 30, 2021 8:46 pm

Artificial reefs aided by C4.

Reply to  Alexy Scherbakoff
August 30, 2021 1:02 am

Yes, so far most sites have been upgraded, often before the end of useful life, with turbines largely reconditioned and reused elsewhere.

Modern turbines are much, much more powerful.

Leo Smith
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 1:58 am

I doubt if you can supply a single example

Reply to  Leo Smith
August 30, 2021 3:52 am

Modern turbines are much, much more powerful.

Even when there is no wind. It’s on paper.

Last edited 22 days ago by fretslider
Rich Davis
Reply to  Leo Smith
August 30, 2021 4:07 am

griff doesn’t need any practical experience with these things, he has memorized the catechism.

Reply to  Rich Davis
August 30, 2021 5:36 pm

No catechism, giffie makes it up as it goes.
All falsehood, all of the time.

Reply to  Leo Smith
August 30, 2021 12:05 pm

He can’t. He’s lying again. They’re starting in a limited way to recycle the materials but old wind turbines are usually buried.

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 6:08 am

When griff decides to make it up, he goes all out.

Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 8:00 am

He went all in on this one … retard warp factor 6 engaged.

Reply to  LdB
August 30, 2021 5:39 pm

Pathological liars cannot help themselves. When challenged giffie doubles down and lies come out of every orifice.

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 6:11 am

Jusr don’t build stupid windmills in the first place…and decommission the Guardian and its wasting of trees for newsprint.

Last edited 22 days ago by Anti-griff
Jim Gorman
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 7:52 am

Something seems off to this old engineer. Upgrade to a larger and more powerful turbine?

A new larger turbine which has longer blades and/or that is taller is going to take a substantially larger base due to torque. Is part of the upgrade digging up the old base and pouring a new larger one? Or, maybe they are just digging a new larger hole beside tje old base which will result in a concrete island sooner or later!

Reply to  Jim Gorman
August 30, 2021 4:29 pm

A longer blade will also require a taller mast.

Reply to  Jim Gorman
September 2, 2021 12:02 pm

They are mostly building 100 m tall, 2-3mWh wind turbines now. Offshore they are starting to use 450m or so, up to 10megawatts.

Bryan A
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 12:49 pm

You can’t upgrade too much as the added weight changes the overall weight load on the structure and foundation. As do larger blades increasing overall shear forces

Craig from Oz
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 10:09 pm

No Griff. We know you are paid for your rapid responses, but do you ever stop to proof read your comments??

“…so far most sites have been upgraded, often before the end of useful life…”

If it is before the end of their useful life, why are they being upgraded?

Also, HOW are they being upgraded? You have a mass budget for structures like this, so you can’t just griffy spiffy rip out old and wack in new. You also don’t just put in a software patch to upgrade the blades. Blades are blades. You replace the entire blade, or none of the blade. What are they actually upgrading? Give examples.

…with turbines largely reconditioned and reused elsewhere. Modern turbines are much, much more powerful.

So reused ‘old’ turbines that are much, much LESS powerful than a new COTS item have a market. Why? If modern turbines are much, much more powerful why would anyone buy an older inferior model?

You need to think, Griff, then type.

Dennis G Sandberg
August 29, 2021 10:42 pm

If you want to know about wind turbine salvage value take a drive south of Bakersfield, CA and notice the 100′ of abandoned turbines rotting on the ridges near the Mojave Airport.

Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
August 30, 2021 12:21 am

Those are future “shovel ready” projects 🤓

Reply to  Derg
August 30, 2021 12:35 am

You cannot put a new bigger mast on old foundations

Bill Toland
Reply to  Dennis G Sandberg
August 30, 2021 1:57 am

The “projected” salvage values of wind turbines in the article are pure fantasy. The 87% salvage value given for one windfarm in the article is ridiculous. Wind farm operators make second hand car salesmen look like paragons of virtue. Talking of second hand cars, what is the salvage value of a 20 year old car? That gives you an idea of what the salvage value of a used wind turbine actually is.

August 29, 2021 11:04 pm

But wind and solar are heralds of the second coming. Oil and Gas companies are agents of the devil. Someone told me so.

John in Oz
August 29, 2021 11:16 pm

The life span of a wind turbine, power companies say, is between 20 and 25 years.

If the end of oil extraction is the aim of the greentards, will the wind turbines last as long without oil-based lubricants, even synthetic ones?

Synthetic oil is a lubricant consisting of chemical compounds that are artificially made. Synthetic lubricants can be manufactured using chemically modified petroleum components rather than whole crude oil, but can also be synthesized from other raw materials. The base material, however, is still overwhelmingly crude oil that is distilled and then modified physically and chemically.

August 30, 2021 12:33 am

Yup, but the elephant in the room is in europe the contracts do not require the removal of foundations. Are you sure they do in USA?

Reply to  sid
August 30, 2021 1:03 am

And the concrete from power stations, old factories etc – is that ever removed?

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 1:14 am

Yes Griff it is it goes thro a crusher/grader and is reused as hard core base for the next project. Steel is reused as well

Leo Smith
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 2:00 am

Yes griff. Current undertandsing of ‘decomissioning’ is back to ‘green field’ sites. that is: soil and grass.

Bill Toland
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 2:11 am

Griff, when old factories are demolished, the land is usually reused for other structures because they are already in built up areas. However, windfarms tend to be built in pristine locations in the country. When windfarms are demolished, every trace of the windfarm should be removed to return the land to its original condition. The cost of doing that is going to be extremely high. My forecast is that many windfarm companies will just declare bankruptcy rather than stump up for the decommisioning costs.

Reply to  Bill Toland
August 30, 2021 3:19 am

griff must be a country bumpkin.

He could get a green job digging up the concrete plinths….

Last edited 22 days ago by fretslider
Reply to  fretslider
August 30, 2021 6:02 pm

Urbanite basement dweller.

Reply to  fretslider
August 31, 2021 7:16 am

Unlikely. A country bumpkin would have a much better connection with reality.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Bill Toland
August 30, 2021 5:01 am

The vast majority of wind turbines I have seen were sited in places where the wind blows, generally on ridge lines and mountain tops! They spoil magnificent views and are remote to the point of absurdity. Will these blades, towers, and foundations be removed and these areas returned to their former beauty? I am afraid they will be allowed to remain in place until gravity and storms reduce them to piles of rubble. Here the Romans and other ancient peoples left stone monuments to their occupation of the land. Will the modern human contribution to future archeologists be rusting piles of steel and wads of fiberglass? What a sad contrast to the pyramids and Parthenon.

Bill Toland
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
August 30, 2021 5:53 am

Pamela, Scotland is despoiled by thousands of these bird mincing monstrosities. They look appalling and I don’t think they will ever be fully removed. I regard windfarm operators as scum of the Earth.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
Reply to  Bill Toland
August 30, 2021 6:04 am

I totally agree, Bill. It is the same here in Portugal although not nearly to the extent I saw in California. The number of turbines can be counted on fingers and toes but they are still hideous and disrupt formerly pristine views in the mountains. I suppose if they were actually of value, we could rationalize their presence but all I see is something that is a threat to the stability of the grid that is enriching a few at a cost to many.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 9:04 am


According to IRENA (International Renewable Energy Agency) the world’s installed wind capacity must reach 6000GW, over ten times the current level, by 2050 for wind to provide 35% of Global Electricity. This would involve the erection of hundreds of millions of wind turbines in wind farms with a far bigger footprint than power plants.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 30, 2021 9:00 pm

The best sites have been the choice for the current installations. The remaining potential sites will be sub-optimal, and produce less power per windmill. Will there be enough affordable sites to reach 6000GW?

Reply to  sid
August 31, 2021 8:12 am

This is the part of the wind turbine story that really bothers me. A single 5 MW turbine as a “root” of something like 2000 tons of concrete and 500 tons of steel. It seems impossible that the cost estimates above include the removal of such a mass. Every ton would need to be turned into rubble and bent rebar. At brownfield industrial sites, these subsurface structures may be reused or at least partly removed. I think the real legacy of wind turbines will be the thousands of these footing that will be there “forever”, not in industrial parks but often throughout formerly pristine areas.

Vincent Causey
August 30, 2021 12:47 am

Even if the decommissioning cost was zero, they still have to all be replaced. Try explaining why “sustainable” is not, to greenies.

Abolition Man
August 30, 2021 12:47 am

Like some kind of myopic or addled Don Quixote, the Greentards insist on protecting windmills instead of tilting at them! Perhaps the dementia existing in the White House is much more widespread in Progressives than previously noted!

Reply to  Abolition Man
August 30, 2021 6:50 am

Maybe that’s because Progressives ain’t progressive – more like Luddites.

August 30, 2021 12:59 am

Apples, you see, are sort of flattened spheroids… whereas your pears, they are pear shaped.

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 3:00 am

Pears bear an uncanny resemblance to your ideas, griff

They too are pear shaped.

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 2:09 pm

Apples, you see, are sort of flattened spheroids… whereas your pears, they are pear shaped.

This seems to be the most sensible thing that griff has ever spouted here

Last edited 21 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 30, 2021 4:32 pm

Sensible, yet totally irrelevant.

Reply to  griff
August 30, 2021 6:13 pm

Asian pears are the same shape as apples.

Nor are all roughly pear shaped pears the same shape. There are many pear shapes.

When you get right down to it, Apples and Pears are members of the Rose family (Rosacea). They are very close relations.

giffie’s attempts at wit are sordidly pathetic.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  ATheoK
August 30, 2021 9:02 pm

He needs to grow a pear (sp)!

August 30, 2021 1:54 am

“By 10 years of age, the report found that the contribution of an average UK windfarm towards meeting electricity demand had declined by a third

” That reduction in performance leads the study team to believe that it will be uneconomic to operate windfarms for more than 12 to 15 years – at odds with industry predictions of a 20- to 25-year lifespan.”

Nuclear doesn’t do that

Last edited 22 days ago by fretslider
Reply to  fretslider
August 30, 2021 7:40 am

And most nuclear power plants can be operated to 50 years or more, with reliable, dispatchable output. Most in the US have been upgraded with better turbines and generators producing higher output.

Ron Long
August 30, 2021 3:00 am

“States generally require a performance bond…” for reclamation of oil wells after they are finished, where finished includes shut-down due to depletion or abandoned. This is the same as the mining industry, a reclamation bond is required to construct a drill site, and a much bigger one to construct a mine and associated processing plant. Wind Mills? No reclamation bonding required. The difference is a political construct, an importance judgement, not based on actual circumstances. Let’s see the wind mill industry, and solar as well, post a reclamation bond, and factor that into their economic performance.

August 30, 2021 3:01 am

This isn’t an apples to oranges comparison, it’s a fruit to nuts comparison.

August 30, 2021 4:19 am

I am proud to say I worked for around 40 years in the UK coal industry as a Chartered Civil Engineer.

The coal industry (both nationalised and privatised) had many problems, not least Marxist unions, government incompetence and malice, weak top management at times and, after the collapse of the Evil Empire Soviet Union, the burgeoning GangGreen.

But we provided cheap, clean, reliable energy. Yes, clean by any sensible definition, although the “acid rain” greenie scam necessitated power stations installing flue gas desulpherisation equipment which was notable mainly for huge expense and putting gypsum miners out of work.

In addition to my primary responsibility of keeping (after Aberfan) spoil heaps safe – and also old neglected structures, reservoirs and mine shafts – I soon picked up responsibilities for Civil and Structural Engineering aspects of a major expansion and renewal of the Industry, following the failure of the fourth attempt by the Arabs to wipe Israel off the map. (The Yom Kippur War, October 1973).

The Arabs of course then quadrupled the price of a barrel of oil, leading to economic problems that even our Beloved Leaders noticed. (In fairness the politicians then were like geniuses compared with most of the current lot)

All the politicians agreed on a new “Plan for Coal” (now conveniently forgotten) to increase indigenous energy supplies.

So it was, cutting to the chase, that I spent around 20 years of my working life (in addition to ongoing safety work) in helping build new mines, followed by another 20 years knocking them down.

So I can claim some significant experience both in setting up and managing large demolition contracts and other contracts for filling and seaing mine shafts (and also many boreholes).

I have no doubt that David has the treatment of old gas and oil wells nailed in his excellent post.

But so far as decommissioning wind farms is concerned, I am unsure.

The reason I am unsure is because the costs “all depend”.

It is almost certain that Politicians and Civil “Servants” (who have fallen over themselves to subsidise the Wind Racketeers and to ensure that all the costs, including future costs, are entirely covered by public money and energy charges), will not have been allowed to fall to the profiteers of the scam artists who built the turbines, nor to the rich con- men (such as Prince Chuckles and David Cameron’s Father in Law) whose land rent provides a very nice little earner for accommodating wind farms. (Sir Reginald Sheffield, Samantha Cameron’s dad, trousers a thousand pounds a day for just eight turbines on his land…)

So, we will soon see the first demolition contracts for Wind Farms. I will hope that both the requirements and the costs will be revealed.

Obviously (to anyone whose IQ score is higher than their hat size – ruling out Griff), you can’t erect a new, larger turbine on the foundation of a smaller redundant turbine.

I have had to break out large, heavily reinforced concrete foundations in the past. But the energy required to break out a 10 meter cube of heavily reinforced concrete (1,000 cu.m.) is enormous. That, plus the construction energy costs would very likely exceed the energy the wretched thing has produced over many years.

So, my guess is that foundations, access roads and so on will never be removed.

The tower, turbine, electrics should be fairly straightforward and should be significantly cash positive (especially if the environmental regulators carefully look the other way. Not at all like when coal mines were decommissioned,)

The blades have already been identified as a problem although I feel sure they could be broken down to something useful. However, I also feel sure that it will be found to be too expensive and they will just be burried.

I think that the best thing to do with them would be to shove them where the sun don’t shine, using the greedy, malicious GangGreen clowns who promoted them and those, like Griff, who avidly defend them against cruel reality.

It is a wonder what the rustle of Rubles and Renminbi will encourage people like them to do.

Alan the Brit
August 30, 2021 5:07 am

“Sir Reginald Sheffield, Samantha Cameron’s dad, trousers a thousand pounds a day for just eight turbines on his land”.

I pointed this out to a greenie leftist acquaintance of mine who loves windfarms, & that its Robin Hood in reverse, robbing the poor to pay the rich landowners through our energy bills including the renewable surcharge, but he didn’t seem to wish to consider the issue as it was saving the planet, from what exactly he couldn’t say!!!

Reply to  Alan the Brit
August 30, 2021 5:27 am

robbing the poor to pay the rich landowners 

The new feudalism in action.

Reply to  fretslider
August 30, 2021 6:17 am

Or old socialism in action.

Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 6:23 am

In the sense that everybody is equally miserable

August 30, 2021 6:14 am

Apparently the latest scam amongst socialists is to “reinterpret” the archeological evidence so as to erase any evidence of a Jewish presence in the middle east prior to the modern era.

Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 8:11 am


I well believe it.

Those who point out the challenges of “integrating” angry, testosterone supercharged Muslim youths into a ‘liberal’ western democracy are invariably ‘cancelled’ as Raaaacist.

But the cancellers are increasingly openly, even proudly antisemitic.

None of this will end well.

Reply to  MarkW
August 30, 2021 6:24 pm

Decades old scam practiced by the Islamic countries surrounding Israel and anywhere Israelites traveled.

Pamela Matlack-Klein
August 30, 2021 4:53 am

There is or used to be a very large wind farm alongside I-39 in northern Illinois. I first saw it in 1998, marveling at how large it was and how many turbines were NOT turning. Does anyone know if this farm is still active or has it been abandoned?

H. D. Hoese
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
August 30, 2021 5:37 am

I seem to remember some going to Michigan not long after that. They appeared relatively short, blades too close to the ground.

Clyde Spencer
Reply to  Pamela Matlack-Klein
August 30, 2021 9:09 pm

When I have been on road trips, I have often marveled at how many turbines in a farm did not seem to be functioning. I’m left with the impression that they need frequent maintenance, but that isn’t a high priority for the owners. They are probably making their profit on the subsidies.

August 30, 2021 6:46 am

It comes down to the benefit to investors and the public. According to Google there are an estimate of 6000 products made from oil purchased and used by manufacturers and the public. What are the products of wind and solar? And there is the consideration of land use.

August 30, 2021 8:11 am

As usual, lots thrown up against the wall, without any actual apples/apples comparisons. Along with bad evaluation supported by older bad evaluations. Some observations.

  • Turbine teardowns have a huge range of costs, per your 2 examples.
  • Much of hydrocarbon field asset retirement costs are for surface restoration and disposal of NORM contaminated tubulars. Renewable sites don’t have them. Also, since renewable sites are, by definition, the best ones for these uses, they will be reused for millennia.
  • Yes, both solar and wind projects should be fully bonded for P90 asset retirement costs. The hydrocarbon extractors are bonded for a tiny fraction of actual costs, and those costs should also be fully covered.
  • The inclusion of royalty and other payments by the hydrocarbon producers into this discussion is irrelevant. Royalties are separate parts of these agreements, and, FYI, are quite low in the CONUS, compared to worldwide. It is the standard goal post movement when discussing this subject. And since the renewable producers don’t use any fuel (the substances that the hydrocarbon royalties are being paid on), they – justifiably – don’t have to pay them.
  • The discussion of only orphan wells deflects away from most of the problem. Most wells overdue for P&A are inactive wells in YUGE legacy fields. They are not plugged because they could still, maybe, someday, somehow, be reused. It involves an annual Kabuki with the regulators, who suitably Ben Dover – every year.
  • The $117B CarbonTracker estimate might be high. Or not. Modern well P&A costs are not widely known (no requirement to show them), but AFE’s are routinely supplemented for those P&A’s that companies are finally made to perform. Also, CarbonTracker (and other) estimates do not account for the exponentially higher costs of hydraulically isolating thousands of high angle, long, multilaterals, frac’d in dozens of intervals. You can only push tubing so far (and often not even that) before you get into cubic $ tractor operations. Some of this hydraulic isolation might not be legally required, but you either do it now, or risk not getting your future offset well reserves booked for frac hitting and competitive drainage issues. More here:

“Because industry does not report actual or estimated P&A costs, available U.S. cost data comes entirely from state orphan well programs. This has led the unwary to assume that all wells, shallow or deep, producing or orphaned, will cost in the low tens of thousands of dollars to close. Our research indicates, however, that those expecting the cost of permanently retiring hundreds of thousands of unconventional shale wells to be $20,000 to $40,000 per well are in for sticker shock. A more realistic estimate may be an order of magnitude higher on average, and in extreme cases as much as $1 million per well. This is because shale wells are deep, deep wells are expensive to close, and deep “problem” wells can cost an order of magnitude more than typical ones. The true costs to plug deep U.S. shale wells may be one of industry’s best kept secrets. As many of the newer deep wells become candidates for permanent Covid-induced shut-ins, understanding these costs and assessing state-wide and company-specific exposure is imperative for every oil producing state.”

How’z about we actually find out? Let’s:

  • Pass legislation to force both renewable and hydrocarbon producers to immediately, fully bond their asset retirement obligations at a P90 level. Ie.e., no more “I’m a big, old company. Trust me….”
  • Make the hydrocarbon and renewable producers catch up on any asset retirement activities overdue for more than 5 years, in the next 5 years.

Agree, or continue to deflect?

Reply to  bigoilbob
August 30, 2021 8:51 am

Oh, BTW, maybe we can agree that modern P&A cost estimation is MIA. So, to reassess P90 company bonding requirements FOR EVERY WELL, we :

  • Make every hydrocarbon producing/produced state hire a George King or equivalent.
  • Update assessments based on modern criteria
  • Calc bonding requirement by operator
  • Update that requirement by year, including an oilfield service multiplier, updated every year.

Happy to formulate an equivalent method for wind and solar.

Bryan A
Reply to  bigoilbob
August 30, 2021 7:29 pm

For that matter perhaps we should also reevaluate the subsidies paid to solar and wind generation based on actual production rather than nameplate capacity factors

Reply to  Bryan A
August 31, 2021 7:12 am

If the hydrocarbon extractors were made to pay for all of their current and legacy externalized costs, I would be happy to lose all of these relatively tiny start up helps.

Reply to  bigoilbob
August 31, 2021 12:54 pm

I could agree to that, so long as they are also subsidized for the much, much larger positive externalities.

Reply to  MarkW
September 8, 2021 5:56 am

Unlike the “negative externalities”, those “positive externalities” are enjoyed ONLY by the folks who buy the oil and gas, and the products and services of those who use it. If you don’t buy the oil and gas and the products and services that use them – i.e. your carbon footprint – all you get is the world going by. OTOH, lower income/net worth folks are both disproportionately burdened with the social/health/environmental/AGW costs of hydrocarbons, but have a lower carbon footprint.

You seem challenged by normal money following processes….

Last edited 13 days ago by bigoilbob
Reply to  bigoilbob
August 30, 2021 12:29 pm


Could you explain why it would be necessary to plug the length of an angled fractured well that’s embedded entirely within the oil bearing reservoir as opposed to just plugging the interface between the oil and overlying stratigraphy? Are you just raising non-issues?

Reply to  meab
August 30, 2021 4:45 pm

Could you explain why it would be necessary to plug the length of an angled fractured well that’s embedded entirely within the oil bearing reservoir as opposed to just plugging the interface between the oil and overlying stratigraphy?”

Good question. To insure hydraulic isolation, most oil/gas field states require cement plugs both across and above the oil and gas bearing strata. It’s part of the API best practices “2 barrier” school of thought. Additionally, modern, frac’d, multilaterals often are frac’d in dozens of discrete intervals, from the laterals tip to it’s base. If those wells were ever to be offset for increased density or field extension, well/well communication would otherwise result in offset frac fluid leakage into the old laterals. First at the frac’d interval, and then into other intervals in the old lateral, resulting in lost proppant efficiency. I.e. a “frac hit” which is already becoming a big problem is current shale development.

August 30, 2021 8:14 am

I’m trying to decide who is more delusional, griff or Ingraham.
Then I realized it doesn’t matter, they are both so far gone they went over the horizon decades ago.

Bryan A
Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2021 5:58 am

Griff is delusional
Loydo is dilauded
Ingraham is Mr Miss Information

August 30, 2021 8:19 am

The most amazing part of this article and all the other against wind against solar hype and rah rah nuclear hype on this web page and its unidirectional articles is that in all the years it has NEVER noticed (or maybe it has but is just ignoring) the one solution that solves all of these problems. It is patented with registered trademark and no secret to insiders. It has won international awards. It is easy to find information. As they say … the silence is deafening. This overlooked item is called the JMCC WING Generator. It is the “Jet Age of Wind Energy”. It does not require batteries. It is designed to operate for 50 years with regular scheduled maintenance. It actually works and is far more efficient and cost effective than 3 blade turbines or solar. It is scalable. Its foot print is far less and with far less cost than either of the planned obsolescence frankenstenergy products that have been promoted by AWEA and CWEA for decades.

Zig Zag Wanderer
August 30, 2021 2:25 pm

Searching on the Web produces almost entirely articles written by you, plus a couple of other fanboys. Lots of requests for handouts.

Apparently this device will produce almost unlimited power from the wind, 24 hours a day, in any location. We’re saved!

Next up, cold fusion breakthrough….

August 30, 2021 4:37 pm

Winning awards is easy. All you need is a flashy presentation.
However to win investors, you have to present something a little more solid.

I’ve lost track of the number of self infatuated inventors who are totally convinced that if only the rest of the world was smart enough, they would be rolling in the dough.
Perhaps you and SidA can go out drinking together and drown your collective sorrows.

Reply to  MarkW
September 2, 2021 8:50 am

To win MOST awards, all you need to be is a liberal/communist, and be supporting THE CAUSE, whatever it is at that time.

Brian Pratt
August 30, 2021 9:14 am

The first step in decommissioning:

Patrick B
August 30, 2021 9:59 am

Thank you General Sheridan.

And while it’s true Texas includes immense scrub and desert lands, the number of abandoned oil wells is declining – just 6,208 in 2020, with 1,477 plugged in 2020. This is a problem that is well in hand.

Coach Springer
August 30, 2021 10:31 am

Speaking of decommissioning, a family member working in the nuclear power generation industry says they all paid the government up front for storage of nuclear waste and the government just kept the money.

Reply to  Coach Springer
August 31, 2021 10:58 am

True, but they didn’t pay by choice.

Democrats passed a storage bill since most reactors are in democrat controlled states.

Then Democrats passed a law in a larger budget bill called Screw Nevada bill that would only allow scientific investigation of a Nevada location for long term storage of waste, Yucca Mountain.

I have been to that site, the tunnel was completed but again Democrats have stopped all future progress. The location is a good site, but the best use of reactor waste would be reprocessing. TRUMP! attempted to restart the process.

I contacted former Senator John Ensign about negotiating 2 nuclear reactors each capable of providing all the then required electrical demand for Nevada to be built at the test site as well as a reprocessing plant in exchange for accepting all national reactor waste. The sale of the output of the second reactor would fund the whole operation.

His office, as with all RINO type political operations sent a simple reply: The Senator has no desire for nuclear waste to be sent to Nevada.

Take a look at Google earth. Search Yucca Flat and you can see the results of the over 700 underground nuclear tests, i.e. subsidence craters. The now Nevada National Security site is contaminate, 65 miles away from Las Vegas and well suited for location nuclear generation plants.

I worked at the test site while testing was still ongoing, it was interesting to see Sedan crater, a BIG hole. It was a right of passage for any new employee to go there. Current pictures appear changed from when I was there, there was a pier that extended out over the hole about 50 feet or so that is no longer there. It was really rusted in the 80s when I was there. There was an old rusty sign stating to not spend more than 15 minutes there. It was not great to get an unpaid day off when a shot was planned. I was an apprentice and money was tight.

As a construction worker in Las Vegas, we were notified when a shot was to occur so that we would not be in a risky location, out on a beam for example, when the shot went off, since you could, on rare occasions, feel the shock wave.

Interesting time in my life, in Tonopah (DOD) while the F117 was secretly operating there, seeing 17 Migs parked at the base, used for red flag as the aggressor planes. You always new when they were flying, really noisy and needed drag chutes to stop when landing. The F117s only flew at night. All you could see was the headlights when landing.

Then to the lower site, DOE, for a few months to finish my required 12 months since they ran a security clearance on me and wanted to make it worth their cost. Only used the clearance 2 times, one pre shot and one post shot. I never went back to the site after my apprenticeship.

Paul Johnson
August 30, 2021 1:23 pm

I’m no fan (pun intended) of wind turbines, but your analysis misses a clear distinction: wells are abandoned because the reservoir is depleted; the wind resource, however, never goes away. The turbines simply break down or wear out.
If foundation removal and site restoration are deleted from your cost table, salvage value of the turbines exceeds their decommissioning cost. Leveraging sunk costs for existing foundations and electrical infrastructure, the economics of new turbines would be better than the originals.

Reply to  Paul Johnson
August 30, 2021 4:43 pm

You assume that the existing foundations can be used again. That is not a good assumption.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2021 6:43 am

The economics would have to consider at least two options:

  • Replace or upgrade existing foundations and cabling for larger turbines
  • Use the capacity of existing foundations and towers as turbine design criteria
Reply to  Paul Johnson
August 31, 2021 12:56 pm

You would have to spend a few bucks to refurbish the foundations before they can be used again. Especially in areas that get a lot of rain so that re-bar may have already started to rust.

It takes quite a bit of work to prevent water from penetrating concrete.

Dave Andrews
Reply to  Paul Johnson
August 31, 2021 7:08 am

The industry wants to build bigger wind turbines with nameplate value of 6MW and 12MW.
These are much larger than the current 2MW or 4MW turbines and require different site conditions, spacing etc to the current wind farms.

Paul Johnson
Reply to  Dave Andrews
August 31, 2021 8:40 am

The industry “wants” to make the best economic case. If that means completely replacing the infrastructure, so be it. If simply replacing the existing turbines on a like-for-like basis is more economic, that’s what they will do.

Reply to  Paul Johnson
September 2, 2021 8:54 am

“the economics of new turbines would be better than the originals”

You mean they might make a break even income? Or they will still not be worth the cost without the subsidies and the electrical distributers being forced to by their output?

John the Econ
August 30, 2021 1:51 pm

I’ve been saying for years now that in a couple of decades, we’ll be needing to spend billions on another “superfund” program to clear the landscape of these things once their owners go bankrupt and leave them in place.

Reply to  John the Econ
August 31, 2021 12:58 pm

Since concrete and iron aren’t toxic, there is no need for the nation as a whole to do anything.

It will be the landowners who will have to figure out what to do with leftover foundations. They were the ones hoping to get rich from allowing the wind turbines to be built in the first place.

August 30, 2021 4:55 pm

You lot need to do better than this if you expect to win the argument.
The pattern seems to be, think up a problem and then look in the most bizarre places to find stuff with which to argue. As if you were the first person to discuss the question.
All too often, the problem has already been noticed and analysed and found to be a non-problem. But you fail to even notice this. These are the arguments that you need to engage with.


Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  kzb
August 30, 2021 7:14 pm

And all you need is 40x the existing reliable capacity, and you’re golden. (see my response to your next comment).

“as if you were the first person to ask the question”, eh? How about the first person to do the maths? Because nobody in the ‘saving the planet’ mode seems to have done it themselves.

Knocking down unreliables is like shooting fish in a barrel:

1. They seem to cost more energy to build and maintain (including infrastructure) than they deliver in their lifetime.

2. The capacity and infrastructure required is astonishing compared to existing reliable capacity requirements.

3. They can’t survive without subsidies, and even more so if you include the infrastructure required and don’t force existing reliable generators to pay for it.

Last edited 21 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 31, 2021 7:13 am

Because nobody in the ‘saving the planet’ mode seems to have done it themselves.

Yes they have ! I linked to one report as an example, but there are more. Decommissioning is also covered by UK legislation. Persons on this site continually come up with problems that have already been dealt with, and they seem to think they are the first person on the planet to do so. Usually it is old news.

1. They seem to cost more energy to build and maintain (including infrastructure) than they deliver in their lifetime.

The energy spent on decommissioning and recycling is taken into account in the EROI calculation. It still comes out at 30.

2. The capacity and infrastructure required is astonishing compared to existing reliable capacity requirements.

Yes but they’ve got it covered. The scale of what is happening out in the North sea is astonishing.

3. They can’t survive without subsidies, and even more so if you include the infrastructure required and don’t force existing reliable generators to pay for it.

Current wind energy is heavily subsidised, but that was done on purpose to accelerate the technology and investment. Looking forward, here in Britain, we have a strike price of 4.7 pence/kWh for offshore wind. That converts to 6.5 cents and is less than half the strike price for new nuclear. They say the next round will be even cheaper. Given the low price they won’t want to buy more expensive fossil fuel and nuclear electricity.

August 30, 2021 5:12 pm

Off topic but here is the actual most important thing you need to engage with.

Apparently wind is heading for 3 cents/kWh. This is cheaper than fossil fuel and nuclear.

Majority of New Renewables Undercut Cheapest Fossil Fuel on Cost

So what do you say to that?

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  kzb
August 30, 2021 7:00 pm

I say excellent, now we can stop subsidising wind and solar power!


With record low auction prices of USD 1.1 to 3 cents per kWh today, solar PV and onshore wind continuously undercut even the cheapest new coal option without any financial support.

Obviously all those plants going bust when subsidies are cut are just incompetent. That’s a relief. Can we have our money back, then?

Now all they have to do is quadruple the existing reliable capacity, and add batteries able to store 18 hours of existing reliable capacity charge at quadruple the existing reliable capacity, and deliver the same as the current reliable capacity, upgrade the infrastructure to manage quadruple the existing reliable capacity (because unreliables only work for 25% of the time if lucky, so must deliver quadruple the existing reliable capacity when working).

Now double ALL of that to manage EVs.

Now multiply ALL of that by the number of days when unreliables might not deliver. Say 5 days?

So that’s 4x2x5. So 40x the existing reliable capacity. Then the planet will apparently be saved. Use your own money, no taxpayer funds. It’s so cheap now, it must be worth it

Last edited 21 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  Zig Zag Wanderer
August 31, 2021 7:42 am

It’s a misrepresentation to say they are closing windfarms. What they are doing is replacing old technology with the latest huge turbines which produce power at 3 cents a unit.
Charging EVs is a non-problem. Average car mileage in Britain is 20 miles a day, which equates to just 5kWh per day. There is enough spare capacity overnight to cope with this, and people are charging for 5p/kWh with flexible rates through the night. With 100% electric car use, additional demand is just 8GWh per year. Fairly trivial and nowhere near double existing capacity.
It’s true that energy storage needs to be ramped up, but many solar installations now come with battery storage. Compressed air storage in old salt mines is being considered, and we have huge underground caverns from salt mines here. No doubt they are even bigger in the USA.

Bryan A
Reply to  kzb
August 30, 2021 11:02 pm

Can you make the wind blow 24/7/365?
Can you make the wind blow more during Peak Usage Times?
Can you make the wind blow less during low demand times?
Can you make the wind blow consistantly enough to maintain grid stability?

Bonus question
Can you make solar produce base load power between 4pm and 9am?
That’s a BIG NEGATORY good buddy.

Reply to  Bryan A
August 31, 2021 7:50 am

It’s unusual for there to be no wind at all out to sea. Wind power is predicable via something called a weather forecast. The latest load factors exceed 50%, with one installation recording 60%. Load factors are forecast to increase as larger and larger turbines are brought into use. Nuclear load factor is only 77%, so wind is not that far behind.
You can have a domestic solar installation with a storage battery. In fact this will be where your retired automotive battery will end up. When their capacity is down to 70-80%, they still have years left in them as domestic storage batteries for solar power.

Reply to  kzb
August 31, 2021 1:04 pm

If having no wind is so unusual, why do no offshore wind farms get utilization over 35 to 40%.
There are no wind farms that come anywhere close to 50%.

Nuclear is closer to 95% many get better than that.

Is there anything you know that is actually true.
Do you ever read anything besides green propaganda?

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2021 5:13 pm

The utilization of offshore wind is higher than onshore. It averages 41% in the North sea, but the newer large turbines do better than that. It is forecast to get to 51% and more.
The load factor for nuclear in UK was only 63% in 2019. My figure of 77% dated from 2017. To be fair most of the stations are near the end of life and the new ones probably do better. However it is cheaper and quicker to simply install more turbines to compensate for their somewhat worse load factor, than building nuclear stations.

Reply to  kzb
August 31, 2021 1:01 pm

Man, you will believe anything.
Regardless, wind is useless unless it provides predictable power 24 hours a day.
Your mythical 3c/kWh does not include the cost you are imposing on other people when the wind dies.

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2021 5:32 pm

It’s not my mythical 3c/kWh. That price did not originate with me. It came from that IRENA report. Which actually said 1.1- 3 cents/kWh.

When your automotive battery is down to 70-80% capacity, it will live out the rest of its days in a vast battery farm, storing power for times of low wind. Battery storage efficiency is 98-99% and the old batteries won’t cost much because where else can people get rid of them. So it won’t add much to the price of electricity.

August 30, 2021 5:53 pm

Huge numbers of abandoned polluting oil wells in Texas which will never be remediated. Half the entire state is a wasteland.”

Obviously, you’ve never been to Texas. Or you like pissing off an amazingly large number of very gung ho Texans across America who know the truth and beauty of Texas. Your specious lies are unable to sully Texas.

The activists making those unplugged claims include every possible well drilled since the 1860s. Many of those wells were drilled for water. And most of those wells are not polluting anything. That is your specious spin.

Being activists, they ignore the well decommissioning bonds requirement for obtaining a new permit, which has been in place since the 1980s at the latest.

The activists continue to harp about glory drilling of the early 20th century, even as the unplugged wells get plugged inexpensively from taxes and surcharges on existing wells.

What is discussed in the above article are the thousands of wind turbines that were allowed to be constructed without requiring decommissioning bonds and all of their waste will fill dumps at taxpayer cost.

Reply to  David Middleton
August 31, 2021 12:50 pm

Ingraham is almost as good as griff when it comes to flat out making stuff up.

Reply to  ATheoK
August 31, 2021 10:01 am

Mark, are you ever right about anything?

Just asking.

John F Hultquist
August 30, 2021 8:22 pm

” blades need to be replaced, cells need to be replaced, ”

Is the term “cell” meaning nacelle?
<em>The nacelle is the part of the turbine that houses the components that transform the wind’s kinetic energy into mechanical energy to turn a generator that produces electricity. The nacelle may look impressive from a distance, installed on top of its tall steel or concrete tower, but get closer and you see that utility-scale machines are truly massive. Their nacelles can stretch to over 50-ft long, and weigh up to 300 tons and more depending on the manufacturer and power rating.</em>

Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  John F Hultquist
August 31, 2021 1:48 am

And never forget that when you see a bunch of turbines moving so slowly that you have to watch for a minute to see the movement, and often a few of them are actually stopped, this is because the wind is not fast enough to turn the turbines, and they are USING electricity to turn these massive nacelles in order to prevent bearings becoming malformed.

Your tax dollars at work…

Last edited 21 days ago by Zig Zag Wanderer
Reply to  John F Hultquist
August 31, 2021 7:53 am

In that case they are a juicy item for the recycling industry.

Brooks H Hurd
August 31, 2021 7:38 am

It would appear that the same sort of people who grossly overestimate the costs of oil well P&A, also grossly overestimate the costs of wind turbine “salvage” value. They also overestimate the lifetime of wind turbines.

Demoing concrete is expensive and you need to move it somewhere after jackhammering it apart. All of these wind turbine demo and disposal costs will need to be covered by tax payers at the end of life.

Reply to  Brooks H Hurd
August 31, 2021 8:43 am

I don’t believe that is true, at least in Britain. The owners have to pay for decommissioning.

Waste that is generated via decommissioning will have to follow the mandated recycling-waste disposal routes at no cost to taxpayers.

Steve S
August 31, 2021 7:56 am

The bailouts, the subsidization, the mandated usage, and the scarce regulation of the solar & wind industries has cost them dearly in innovation, development, and real progress. Without all the climatista-driven government assistance, the wind & solar industries would have had a rougher start, but they would probably be cost-competitive today if they had had to battle for their survival the way non-favored industries do.

Government has cost wind & solar a good 20-30 years worth of innovation and industrial development. Think of what those industries could be today if they hadn’t been propped up like a bunch of cripples.

Reply to  Steve S
August 31, 2021 8:48 am

For heavens sake they are already producing the cheapest electricity. How is that not competitive ? The subsidies have accelerated investment so that we are now at the position they can produce power for 1-3 cents/kWh. What more do you want?

Reply to  kzb
August 31, 2021 1:06 pm

They aren’t producing the cheapest. Not even close.
Like most wind enthusiasts, you ignore the vast majority of costs associated with the objects of your devotion.

Reply to  MarkW
August 31, 2021 1:35 pm

The forthcoming round of offshore wind in Britain will sell at £47/MWh. Less than half the price of new nuclear.

Now look at this:

With record low auction prices of USD 1.1 to 3 cents per kWh today, solar PV and onshore wind continuously undercut even the cheapest new coal option without any financial support.

It seems to me it is game over for fossil fuels and nuclear, simply on the grounds of cost. This is the overriding fact that you need to engage with. Everything else is just fluff. Is it actually cheaper, or is IRENA lying ? If it is lying, how?

August 31, 2021 12:26 pm

In a wind turbine you only need to replace the wearing parts and it is as god as new again.

An oil rig will eventually run out of oil and must then be dismanteled.

That is the big difference compared to an oil rig. The wind does not stop.

Therfore it does not make sense to compare the cost of toally dismantling a wind turbine with an oil rig. A better comparison would be the cost of replacing the wear parts on a wind mill compared to dismantling an oil rig.

Reply to  Jan Kjetil Andersen
August 31, 2021 1:09 pm

You make it sound like replacing a nacelle is like swapping out a car battery.

Your knowledge of gas and oil doesn’t seem to be much better than your knowledge of wind.

The oil rig is dismantled when the drilling is done, then it is moved somewhere else to drill a new well. All that’s left are small pumps and a few tanks.

Ronald Stein
September 1, 2021 7:55 am

The useful life of wind turbines is limited, generally from 15 to 20 years, but none of the decommissioning plans are public. Mining projects, oil production sites, and nuclear generation sites are required to provide for decommissioning and restoration details down to the last dandelion.

Would governments and greenies allow a decommissioned mine, oil or nuclear site similar latitudes given to renewable sites?


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