Difficult-to-recycle wind turbine blades are set to be turned into skis, insulation, and materials for solar farms, as part of a new trial by Swedish wind farm developer Vattenfall.
Though 90 per cent of a turbine is already recyclable, blades are made from composite materials that make them difficult to recycle using conventional processes. However, with a ban on sending blades to landfill already in place Vattenfall has committed to recycling all its turbine blades by 2030.
The company announced this week that a new trial will see 84 turbine blades from a deco­­­­­­­­mmissioned wind farm recycled or re-used to produce sports equipment such as skis and snowboards, insulation materials, and components for solar farms.
The approach could help address a significant gap in the market, as no options for the large-scale re-use of turbine blades currently exist. As such, the new approach that is being piloted using blades from Vattenfall’s decommissioned Irene Vorrnik1 onshore wind farm in the Netherlands could ultimately lead to a second life for the more than 30,000 blades currently generating clean electricity in the UK.
Danielle Lane, country manager for Vattenfall in the UK, said: “In the future, we could be using wind farm blades to keep our homes warm, exercise and even to build solar farms. These new research projects could provide the answers we’ve been searching for as an industry, opening up exciting possibilities to deal with the challenge of recycling turbine blades.”
The 28-turbine Irene Vorrink site will be the largest wind farm to date from which blades will be fully recycled or reused. As the blades are taken down, they will be cut into smaller pieces suitable to be transported to the recycling facility.
Norwegian recycling company Gjenkraft AS will then use some of the blades to produce recycled fibers and synthetic oils and gas, which could then be used to produce new products.
Meanwhile, the LIFE CarbonGreen Consortium will research new ways of re-processing the blades, with a particular focus on re-using them in the construction of solar farms. Educational institute ROC van Amsterdam will also receive two blades for use as training tools for wind turbine technicians.
There are 11,092 operational onshore and offshore wind turbines in the UK today with an installed capacity of more than 24GW – enough to power up to more than 18 million homes annually. That number will grow dramatically over the next decade as the country races to meet the government’s target of 50GW of installed offshore wind capacity by 2030. https://www.businessgreen.com/…/round-goes-wind-turbine…

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