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Supply chain opportunities from effective wind turbine decommissioning

The Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult has published a report outlining the supply chain and economic opportunities associated with the decommissioning of offshore wind turbines

The Offshore Renewable Energy (ORE) Catapult has published a report outlining the supply chain and economic opportunities associated with the decommissioning of offshore wind turbines.

The report examines the materials and components of offshore wind turbines in UK waters, breaking them down into individual subsystems and parts.

The research identifies the potential for refurbishment, reuse, remanufacturing, material recovery and recycling of these components.

The report highlights the potential for the UK supply chain to benefit from decommissioning, particularly through the recycling or reuse of high-value materials such as steel, engineered metal alloys, copper, and rare earth magnet materials.

This work is part of the Circular Economy for the Wind Sector (CEWS) Joint Industry programme, led by ORE Catapult with industry partners including RWE, TotalEnergies and Equinor.

A case study within the report uses a generic 2MW geared and direct drive turbine to establish a baseline for the potential future handling of materials.

Although the smallest turbine capacity offshore is 6MW, the study applies the findings to both turbine types due to the similarity of components.

The research employs the waste hierarchy to estimate the environmental impact of various material disposal routes and identifies gaps in technologies and capacities for managing the expected waste types and volumes.

Vanessa Smithson-Paul, Project Manager at ORE Catapult, said: “We are excited to share this important new research which follows extensive consultation across industry and the supply chain.

“These conversations have helped us to identify crucial gaps, revealing the opportunities which exist for new technologies or solutions within a circular supply chain.”

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