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Waste & Recycling July 02, 2020 02:30:59 AM

Recycling Solutions Sought for Turbine Blades

Waste Advantage
ScrapMonster Contributor
These technologies also fail to preserve the value in the structural integrity and material profile of the end-of-life blades, thereby allowing turbine blade recycling to remain less than economically viable at scale.

Recycling Solutions Sought for Turbine Blades

SEATTLE (Waste Advantage): The exponential growth of both on and off-shore wind energy is truly an environmental good news story of the past 25 years. It is estimated that there is no less than 600 gigawatts of wind energy capacity currently installed worldwide and the European Commission, in their long-term de-carbonization strategy to 2050, estimates that windalone could provide 50% of the EU’s electricity demand by 2050.

But with as much as 6 million tons of composite wind turbine material in use in the wind industry globally and tens of thousands of tons of blades due for obsolescence in the near future without a cost-effective recycling/recovery plan, the environmental, commercial and regulatory challenge is as visible as a hillside wind farm.

It would be inaccurate to portray the wind industry as having no sustainable materials pathway. In fact, it is estimated that as much as 85 to 90% of wind turbines’ total mass can be recycled, including the foundation, tower and components in the nacelle. Turbine blades are, however, more challenging to recycle due to the composite materials used in their production – specifically, rigid fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) composites. While various technologies exist that can be used to process FRP composites, they typically require end-of-life materials to be available by the inch and are ill-equipped to handle towering 90 meter blades.

These technologies also fail to preserve the value in the structural integrity and material profile of the end-of-life blades, thereby allowing turbine blade recycling to remain less than economically viable at scale.

Courtesy: www.wasteadvantage.com

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