Old as the mills

A surprising find last week: Hundreds of old wind mills at sea are leaning (Dutch). I found the exact same text in many other media. Seems those journalists were in full copy/paste mode. This story sounded strange to me because offshore wind mills are a rather recent phenomenon. So I was really curious about what was behind this story.

Basically, the story goes like this: the builders of those wind mills used a certain type of cement to align the foundation. That cement is now coming loose due to salt, waves and the weather. That is the reason that those wind mills (start to) lean over and will not produce electricity in an optimal way, what means less money coming in for the owners. Energy producers now will need to replace the cement by something else that can keep up with the elements. Worldwide there seem to be 2,500 wind mills that are constructed using the same cement.

But that is not what surprised me most. It was when the age of those “old” windmills was revealed…

… wait for it …

… five years …

Yep, you heard that all right, five year.

For mills that are assumed to last for twenty years, five year is not what I would call “old”. If one would compare it with a human with an expected life span of eighty years, then we are talking about someone of about twenty years old.

What could be the reason for this understating of the age of the mills? Do they want to avoid drawing too much attention that these are rather new installations that are in need of serious renovation? Something negative about them in the media, we can’t have that, can’t we?

Whatever the case, the concept of calling a windmill “old” after only five years still seems strange to me.

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