Siemens Gamesa Develops Recyclable Offshore Wind Turbine Blades
While the global focus is on the development and installation of wind turbines to increase the production of renewable energy, the manufacturers and operators are also considering the life cycle and how the industry will handle the decommissioning of the turbines to avoid longer-term problems. Many components of a wind turbine, such as the tower and nacelle components have established recycling practices, but wind turbine blades are one of the most challenging segments and according to the industry require new solutions to introduce recycling or reuse options in anticipation of their end of life.
The challenge with wind turbine blades comes from the composite materials required to make them relatively lightweight yet durable and strong enough to fulfill their role. Experts have been exploring different options and now Siemens Gamesa, one of the leading turbine manufacturers, announced that it has developed the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades ready for commercial use offshore. This advancement is part of the company’s goal to make turbines fully recyclable by 2040.
Siemens Gamesa says that wind turbine blades are made from a combination of materials cast together with resin to form a strong and flexible lightweight structure. They have now begun production using a new resin with a chemical structure that makes it possible to separate the resin from the other components at the end of the blade’s working life. This process protects the properties of the materials in the blade, in contrast to other existing ways of recycling conventional wind turbine blades, making it possible to reuse the materials in new applications.
“Our aspiration is to produce wind turbines that can generate renewable electricity for 20-30 years. When they reach the end of their useful life, we can separate the materials and use them for new relevant applications. The RecyclableBlade is a great step in that direction and well ahead of our 2040 goal,” said Gregorio Acero, Head of Quality Management & Health, Safety, and Environment at Siemens Gamesa.
The first six 81-meter (265 foot) long RecyclableBlades have been produced at the Siemens Gamesa blade factory in Aalborg, Denmark. Siemens Gamesa reports that it has also reached agreements with three of its major customers, RWE, EDF, and wpd, for pilot projects to install and demonstrate the new blades.
The first installation of the new blades is anticipated for RWE Renewables’ Kaskasi offshore wind power plant in Germany. The project is expected to begin producing energy in 2022.
“We are pleased that our offshore wind farm Kaskasi is able to provide a fantastic facility for testing innovations; here we are preparing to test special steel collars and to use an improved installation method for foundations,” said Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Wind Offshore, RWE Renewables. Now, Kaskasi installs the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade manufactured by Siemens Gamesa. This is a significant step in advancing the sustainability of wind turbines to the next level”.
Siemens Gamesa also is working with EDF Renewables and wpd to deploy the new blades at future wind farms to be developed by both companies.