In 2007, the EU established challenging goals for all Member States with the aim of obtaining 20% of their energy consumption from renewables, and offshore wind is expected to be among the renewable energy sources contributing highly towards achieving this target. Currently wind turbines are designed for a 25-year service life with the possibility of operational extension. Extending their efficient operation and increasing the overall electricity production will significantly increase the return on investment (ROI) and decrease the levelized cost of electricity (LCOE), considering that Capital Expenditure (CAPEX) will be distributed over a larger production output. The aim of this paper is to perform a detailed failure mode identification throughout the service life of offshore wind turbines and review the three most relevant end of life (EOL) scenarios: life extension, repowering and decommissioning. Life extension is considered the most desirable EOL scenario due to its profitability. It is believed that combining good inspection, operations and maintenance (O&M) strategies with the most up to date structural health monitoring and condition monitoring systems for detecting previously identified failure modes, will make life extension feasible. Nevertheless, for the cases where it is not feasible, other options such as repowering or decommissioning must be explored.
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