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A Framework and Baseline for the Integration of a Sustainable Circular Economy in Offshore Wind

School of Civil Engineering, University of Leeds, Leeds LS2 9JT, UK
Academic Editors: Eva Mª Buitrago Esquinas and Rocío Yñiguez Ovando
Energies 2021, 14(17), 5540; https://doi.org/10.3390/en14175540
Received: 15 August 2021 / Revised: 28 August 2021 / Accepted: 30 August 2021 / Published: 5 September 2021
(This article belongs to the Special Issue The Role of Energy in the Circular Economy)
Circular economy and renewable energy infrastructure such as offshore wind farms are often assumed to be developed in synergy as part of sustainable transitions. Offshore wind is among the preferred technologies for low-carbon energy. Deployment is forecast to accelerate over ten times faster than onshore wind between 2021 and 2025, while the first generation of offshore wind turbines is about to be decommissioned. However, the growing scale of offshore wind brings new sustainability challenges. Many of the challenges are circular economy-related, such as increasing resource exploitation and competition and underdeveloped end-of-use solutions for decommissioned components and materials. However, circular economy is not yet commonly and systematically applied to offshore wind. Circular economy is a whole system approach aiming to make better use of products, components and materials throughout their consecutive lifecycles. The purpose of this study is to enable the integration of a sustainable circular economy into the design, development, operation and end-of-use management of offshore wind infrastructure. This will require a holistic overview of potential circular economy strategies that apply to offshore wind, because focus on no, or a subset of, circular solutions would open the sector to the risk of unintended consequences, such as replacing carbon impacts with water pollution, and short-term private cost savings with long-term bills for taxpayers. This study starts with a systematic review of circular economy and wind literature as a basis for the coproduction of a framework to embed a sustainable circular economy throughout the lifecycle of offshore wind energy infrastructure, resulting in eighteen strategies: design for circular economy, data and information, recertification, dematerialisation, waste prevention, modularisation, maintenance and repair, reuse and repurpose, refurbish and remanufacturing, lifetime extension, repowering, decommissioning, site recovery, disassembly, recycling, energy recovery, landfill and re-mining. An initial baseline review for each strategy is included. The application and transferability of the framework to other energy sectors, such as oil and gas and onshore wind, are discussed. This article concludes with an agenda for research and innovation and actions to take by industry and government. View Full-Text
Keywords: circular economy; resource and waste management; resource efficiency; wind energy; sustainable development; low-carbon infrastructure; renewable energy; energy transition circular economy; resource and waste management; resource efficiency; wind energy; sustainable development; low-carbon infrastructure; renewable energy; energy transition
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MDPI and ACS Style

Velenturf, A.P.M. A Framework and Baseline for the Integration of a Sustainable Circular Economy in Offshore Wind. Energies 2021, 14, 5540. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14175540

AMA Style

Velenturf APM. A Framework and Baseline for the Integration of a Sustainable Circular Economy in Offshore Wind. Energies. 2021; 14(17):5540. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14175540

Chicago/Turabian Style

Velenturf, Anne P.M. 2021. "A Framework and Baseline for the Integration of a Sustainable Circular Economy in Offshore Wind" Energies 14, no. 17: 5540. https://doi.org/10.3390/en14175540

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