WindEurope, Cefic (the European Chemical Industry Council) and EUCIA (the European Composites Industry Association) have created a cross-sector platform to advance novel approaches to the recycling of wind turbine blades.
In 2018 wind energy supplied 14 percent of the electricity in the EU with 130,000 wind turbines and this number will only grow in the coming decades. Wind turbines blades are made up of a composite material, which boosts the performance of wind energy by allowing lighter and longer blades. Today, 2.5 million tons of composite material are in use in the wind energy sector.
In the next five years 12,000 wind turbines are expected to be decommissioned. Broadening the range of recycling options is critical for the industry’s development.
“Wind energy is an increasingly important part of Europe’s energy mix” said WindEurope CEO, Giles Dickson. “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.”
Cefic Director General, Marco Mensink, added that the chemical industry plays a decisive role in the transition to a circular economy by investing in the research and development of new materials, which make wind turbine blades more reliable, affordable and recyclable. Innovation is born from collaboration and Cefic looks forward to working together to advance wind turbine blade recycling.
The knowledge gained from wind turbine recycling will subsequently be transferred to other markets to enhance the overall sustainability of composites.