In the United Kingdom, they were earlier to embrace offshore wind turbines. Now they face a critical environmental, economic, and energy challenge; how to get rid of them.
And that is a problem about to hit all of Europe.
In the early 2000s, the UK embraced offshore wind turbines as a way to offset their CO2 emissions and, like most confirmation bias events, refused to see the data right in front of their eyes. Wind power deserves basic research, but not government subsidies and mandates. It didn't work 200 years ago any more than having a garden meant you could feed a city and very little has changed.
UK now knows. Billions of pounds spent only led to 8,000 MW from nearly 2,000 turbines, which means on average each is only producing enough electricity to run London for a few seconds - and now they bring a new, expensive problem. They are not lasting anywhere near as long as politicians, government contractors, and environmental groups claimed they would. That means they will have to be decommissioned and dismantled and because environmental groups helped write the rules, the ocean must be "restored" to its original state. The cost is enormous.
Any time you create a new energy source you have to factor in the cost of removing it, that is the only way to compare its relative cost versus existing sources. The problem is that the assumptions they made and uncertainties they ignored means their estimated cost for decommissioning is going to be a fraction of reality.
And it is not better for the environment. The crews to maintain scuttle these expensive wind vanes are not getting there using solar power, and they will do even more damage taking them out than they did putting them in. Activists, who have now taken to raising money opposing important energy sources like hydroelectric power, instead were on board wrecking nature for this.(1)
Adedipe, T., Shafiee, M. An economic assessment framework for decommissioning of offshore wind farms using a cost breakdown structure. Int J Life Cycle Assess (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11367-020-01793-x
The "polluter pays’ principle" is popular, but who is going to pay to remove all of these wind turbines when the companies behind them did so with government mandates and subsidies? What if the companies are simply gone? Even real energy companies burdened with energy supplement placebos like this pass the cost through to customers. Europe already has thousands of senior citizens die during summer each year because they cannot afford electricity for air conditioning, adding more burdens for the elderly is not constructive.
In the next few years, Europe is going to have 20,000 offshore wind turbine end-of-life scenarios. and none of them are going to cost anywhere near what estimates claimed when this green dream was in planning.
(1) Until they need a new revenue stream. These same groups also endorsed natural gas, ethanol, and hydroelectric power until they were popular and therefore permanent lucrative targets because they are now impossible to ever really eliminate.