Wind turbine in the Ormonde Marine Wind Park, in the Irish Sea. As governments around the world seek to increase their renewable energy capacity, the number of global wind turbines appears to be growing, which in turn will increase pressure on the sector to find sustainable fin disposal solutions.
Ashley Cooper Corbis Documentary Getty Images
A large offshore wind farm under construction in the waters off the Netherlands will use recyclable blades from Siemens Gamesa Renewable energy – the latest in a number of companies trying to tackle a problem that has proved challenging for the wind energy sector.
In a statement on Thursday, Swedish energy company Vattenfall said some of the 1.5 gigawatt Hollandse Kust Zuid wind turbines will use Siemens Gamesa’s RecycableBlades. These blades, Wattenfall said, use “a type of resin that dissolves in a low-temperature, slightly acidic solution.”
This, it is explained, allows the resin to be separated from other components in the blade – carbon fiber, wood, fiberglass, metal and plastic – “without significantly affecting their properties”. The components can then be recycled and used again.
The offshore construction of Hollandse Kust Zuid, which will use 140 wind turbines, began in July 2021. It is jointly owned by Vattenfall, Allianz and BASF and commissioning is scheduled for 2023.
The question of what to do with wind turbine blades when they are no longer needed is a headache for the industry. This is because the composite materials from which the blades are made can be difficult to recycle, which means that many of them end up in landfills when their service life expires.
As governments around the world seek to increase their renewable energy capacity, the number of global wind turbines appears to be growing, which in turn will increase pressure on the sector to find sustainable fin disposal solutions.
Vattenfall is one of several companies involved in recycling and reusing wind turbine blades – a goal that fuels the idea of creating a “circular economy” in which waste is minimized and products are redirected and reused.
Earlier in June, the Spanish energy company Iberdroll stated that it had set up a company with FCC Ambito to plan to recycle components used in renewable energy installations, including wind turbine blades. FCC Ambito is a subsidiary of FCC Medio Ambiente Services.
In a statement at the time, Iberdrola said the company, known as EnergyLOOP, would develop a blade recycling facility in Navarre, northern Spain.
“The initial goal will be to rebuild the components of the wind turbine blades – mainly glass and carbon fibers and resins – and reuse them in sectors such as energy, aerospace, automotive, textiles, chemicals and construction,” the company said.