Renewable Energy, Vol.150, 550-560, 2020
Long-term visual impacts of aging infrastructure: Challenges of decommissioning wind power infrastructure and a survey of alternative strategies
This paper presents the current trends and challenges related to the aging of renewable energy infrastructure and its visual impact, looking at case studies in California, United States. The first wind turbines installed in California are approaching the end of their life cycle. More than 30 years ago they created a new type of energy landscape - one based on renewable energy sources. Wind farms in particular dramatically change the image of the landscape and raise many questions concerning their aesthetic impact on the landscape. In theory, decommissioning would return a landscape to its pre-industrial character, but conducted research allowed to distinguish four scenarios for the transformation of aging wind energy infrastructure: (1) full decommissioning, (2) constant repowering (3) repowering preceded by full decommissioning, (4) transition towards a tourist attraction. Our research revealed that repowering after full decommissioning is a better solution than partial repowering for reducing the possible cumulative impact of wind farms, which typically consist of different wind turbine sizes and styles. Repowering done for large areas, over a relatively short timeframe, reduces the densely built-up industrial image of the wind farm, and allows for minimizing of the space occupied by wind turbines. (C) 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.