UK’s offshore wind decommissioning costs ‘could hit £3.6bn’

The final cost will depend on whether some infrastructure can be left in place and on which tools and processes are used

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The total cost of decommissioning the UK’s offshore wind farms is likely to range between £1.28 billion to £3.64 billion.

That’s according to the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), which commissioned professional services firm Arup to work out the potential price tag of closing down offshore energy infrastructure once it becomes obsolete.

BEIS has a responsibility to ensure projects are appropriately decommissioned at the end of their useful life and make sure funds are available to ensure the associated costs are not passed on to the public sector.

In addition, the report suggests BEIS may be required to adopt the role of decommissioner as a last resort in extreme cases.

It calculates the potential liability to BEIS is estimated to be between £1.03 billion to £2.94 billion.

Arup says costs will depend on changes in regulation which may affect whether some infrastructure can be left in place, as well as on which tools and techniques are used to carry out the work and how much these processes could cost, for example the rates charged to hire out specialised vessels.

The report recommends BEIS undertakes periodic calculations of the total decommissioning costs and regularly reviews plans to ensure sufficient funds will be available at the time of decommissioning.

Dismantling oil and gas operations in the North Sea is estimated to cost double the UK Government’s official target of £39 billion.