New cross-sector project targets wind turbine blades recycling

WindEurope has joined forces with the European Chemical Industry Council and the European Composites Industry Association

The wind energy industry in Europe has joined forces with two other industry bodies to tackle the issue of turbine blades waste.

WindEurope, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the European Composites Industry Association have developed a cross-sector platform to advance novel approaches to recycle wind turbine blades.

Turbine blades are made up of a composite material, which boosts the performance of wind power by allowing lighter and longer blades.

WindEurope suggests around 2.5 million tons of composite material are currently used in the wind energy industry and with around 12,000 turbines expected to be decommissioned over the next five years, broadening the recycling options is crucial.

Currently, composite materials are being recycled at a commercial scale through cement co-processing, where the cement raw materials being partially replaced by the glass fibres and fillers in the composite and the organic fraction replaces coal as a fuel.

WindEurope says the carbon output of the cement manufacturing process can be significantly reduced through this process, with the possibility of up to 16% reduction if composites represent 75% of cement raw materials.

CEO Giles Dickson adds: “Wind energy is an increasingly important part of Europe’s energy mix. The first generation of wind turbines are now starting to come to the end of their operational life and be replaced by modern turbines. Recycling the old blades is a top priority for us and teaming up with the chemical and compositors industries will enable us to do it the most effective way.”

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