Thriving in Denmark

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Denmark's government-sponsored repowering program during 2001-2003 for replacement of wind turbines with capacity ratings between 55 kW and 150 kW has spawned a thriving business in sales of used machines, with a new breed of middlemen buying up old units for reconditioning and resale. By the close of the program, 1480 turbines had been taken down, either to make way for new turbines or to tidy up the Danish landscape and keep future development within designated wind development zones.

Replacement turbines are not always installed on the same site as the old machines, with the result that old turbines can either be sold for erection elsewhere or for continued operation on the existing site by a new owner, who accepts that the output no longer attracts a subsidised price. Others are dismantled entirely and sold for scrap, recycling, or for their parts.

Dozens of advertisements for second hand turbines are placed each year in the national wind power magazine, Naturlig Energi, either by private individuals or by middlemen specialised in the business. Often the turbines are traded by people or companies with specialist knowledge of the technology who can service the turbines or recondition them before they are sold. Other customers for second hand turbines are investors who have spotted the opportunity to generate cheap electricity and sell it at a profitable market price.

Some turbines have ended up in eastern Europe, prompting debate in Denmark about whether it is fair to sell old technology to new markets. But exports of second hand machines have mostly been those of newer vintage -- and they have usually been thoroughly reconditioned before leaving the country.

With a new repowering program just proposed by government for replacement of all turbines in Denmark with rated capacities up to 450 MW, another 800-900 second hand units are expected to hit the market in the next few years.

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