Pioneering sustainable wind turbine decommissioning


The challenge

After booming in the 70s, the wind power industry now faces a new, historical challenge as thousands of wind turbines are reaching the end of their lifespan with no sufficient system for decommissioning and recycling.

As a domain expert within engineering and renewable energy, DNV has long foreseen the need for a service that simplifies the decommissioning process, making it easier for wind farm owners and operators to plan for end-of-life decommissioning.

After having gained insight on how this can be done efficiently, DNV developed consulting reports for customers on the matter. Our job became converting this consulting business into a user-friendly, digital service with a scalable business model.

Our approach

During this project, we got to work on creating a digital service, while building a corporate startup inside DNV. This meant that in addition to designing the service and its functions, we also got to design and build the business around it, including everything from the revenue model to the go-to-market processes.

Based on the insight DNV had gathered before reaching out to us, we created early prototypes based on our “best current answers”, which we then iterated on continuously throughout the project, as we gathered new insight and validated our hypotheses.

Although we started this project with ample amounts of industry insight, we still needed to learn about the potential users. What kind of challenges did wind farm owners and operators face day-to-day? What kind of tools and data would they need to make decommissioning and recycling of their wind turbines easier?

As the wind power industry is no more than 50 years old, a lot of the wind farm owners and operators have yet to deal with decommissioning large quantities of wind turbines. Because of this, many of the people in our target group were quite new to these issues, and therefore struggled with defining their own experiences and problems in such a scenario. To make it easier for them to reflect on their needs, we used the card-sorting method when interviewing them. This helped them visualize their processes, making an abstract scenario more tangible.

Having gathered insight on our target group, we then needed to sort our findings. We used the segmentation cross-method to sort the wind farm owners into categories, by finding the underlying drivers of the differences between groups, in this case dividing by company size and to what degree they were involved in the day-to-day operations of their farms.

The result

Through corporate venturing, service and business design, we were able to create ReWind: A digital, scalable service for decommissioning and recycling of wind turbines, together with the DNV team.

After seven months of iterations, we were ready to pilot test the service on its first paying customers.

By mapping out our target groups' operational challenges when planning for end-of-life decommissioning, we could create a service that is highly sought after by operators and owners of wind farms, and potentially help solve a historic challenge.