New Project to Advance Wind Turbine Blade Recycling
WindEurope, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and the European Composites Industry Association (EUCIA) have initiated a project to advance novel ways of recycling wind turbine blades.
Wind turbines blades are made up of a composite material which boosts the performance of wind turbines by allowing lighter and longer blades.
Today, 2.5 million tons of composite material are in use in the wind energy sector. Around 130,000 wind turbines are operational in Europe, and over the next five years 12,000 of them are expected to be decommissioned and replaced with more modern equipment.
Composite materials are being recycled today at commercial scale through cement co-processing, where the cement raw materials are being partially replaced by the glass fibers and fillers in the composite, and the organic fraction replaces coal as a fuel. Through that process, the CO2 output of the cement manufacturing process can be significantly reduced (up to 16 percent reduction is possible if composites represent 75 percent of cement raw materials). Besides recycling through cement co-processing, alternative technologies like mechanical recycling, solvolysis and pyrolysis are being developed.
Experience gained from wind turbine recycling will then be transferred to other markets to enhance the overall sustainability of composites.