What will happen to decommissioned wind turbine blades?
One of the biggest challenges that comes with wind power is how to recycle turbine blades. Up to 95% of a wind turbine can currently be recycled, however the rotor blades, once they’re no longer needed, pose the greatest challenge to end-of-use considerations for wind energy due to the costs and scale of recycling these parts. So what will happen to decommissioned wind turbine blades in the future?
It is estimated that around 25,000 tonnes of wind turbine blades will reach the end of their operational life annually by 2025, rising to 52,000 tonnes by 2030.
Despite this, recent announcements have suggested that there may be a solution to end landfill for wind turbine blades, providing an alternative means to dispose of decommissioned blade material.
Exciting news for the renewable industry as one of the industry’s major wind turbine manufacturers announced the possibility of being able to recycle wind turbine blades, turning old composite blades into raw materials again through a newly discovered chemical process.
Until recently, decommissioned wind turbine blades have been considered a challenge to dispose of due to their material. The chemical properties of epoxy resin which the blades are comprised of, is a resilient substance that was believed to be almost impossible to break down into reusable components.
The company says it has discovered a solution which “renders epoxy-based turbine blades as circular, without the need for changing the design or composition of blade material.”
The future of wind turbine blades
This comes as significant news as until now, the wind industry has believed that turbine blade material calls for a new approach to design and manufacture to be either recyclable, or circular when at end of life. Looking into the future, we can view old epoxy-based blades as a source of raw material as opposed to waste.
If this new technology is implemented on a large scale, old blade materials currently sitting in landfill sites and blade material in active wind farms can instead be disassembled and reused. As a result, this eliminates and reduces the waste material from wind power production.
This signals a new era for the wind industry, and accelerates our journey towards a more sustainable future through the development of new innovative technologies.
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