From time to time, I like to step outside the green building industry and look at construction of renewable energy projects. While windmill construction is nothing new, countries are looking for new opportunities to develop wind energy. One new type of development has certainly caught my attention from a risk management standpoint. A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted offshore wind energy projects being constructed in Europe:
"By offering generous incentives, the U.K. already has built more offshore wind power than any other nation. Now it is planning a wave of vast new wind farms, in some of Europe’s stormiest waters."
The construction of offshore wind energy will require significant foundations, some of which have already proven problematic:
"Some dismiss the windmills as quixotic. . . . And many more challenges await, judging from those the project at Kent faced, ranging from the need to protect marine worms to a design flaw that causes turbines to sink into their foundations."
As a construction attorney, the two words "design flaw" always catch my eye. In this case, the design flaw in the windmills could prove costly:
"Owners of a Dutch wind farm found their turbines had shifted a few inches, the result of a design flaw in equipment connecting the towers to their foundations. RenewableUK, a trade association, said most of the 336 turbines operating in the U.K. waters could have the same fault, and would cost about $250,000 each to fix."
A $250,000 fix for 336 turbines would cost $84,000,000. It is certainly important to develop new renewable energy sources. But it’s also important to understand that new risks and liabilities will almost certainly emerge from new types of renewable energy construction. What do you think? Photo credit: K2D2vaca Related Links: Green Energy Rush Hit by Headwinds (WSJ)