A deal for exploring the opportunities in the recycling of wind turbine blades was struck between LafargeHolcim, the biggest cement manufacturer of the world, and General Electric’s renewables business unit.
The companies will focus on exploring “circular economy solutions”, according to a memorandum of understanding between the companies. In recent years, there has been increased interest of business practices that are connected to the notion of a circular economy with many companies around the world trying to create business models and design operations that can minimize wastage.
The two companies were looking into “new ways of recycling wind blades, including as a construction material to build new wind farms”, the firms said in a statement announcing the partnership.
The two companies were already in a partnership and the plans announced this week build on that already existing relationship. GE Renewable Energy had said last June that it was getting into a partnership with LafargeHolcim and another firm, COBOD International, for the development of wind turbines that use 3D-printed concrete bases.
For the wind turbine industry, deciding what to do with wind turbine blades after they can be used no more is an issue. What makes it difficult to recycle is the fact that such wind turbine blades are made of composite materials and as a consequence many of the blades end their lives in the landfill after the end of their service life.
The number of wind turbines on the planet only looks set to grow because governments around the world are trying to ramp up their renewable energy production capacity. That in turn will result in increased pressure on the industry sector for drawing out sustainable solutions for the ecological disposal of the wind turbine blades.
Plans to try to tackle the problem have been announced by major players in wind energy industry over the last few years. Its plan for reusing, recycling or recovering all turbine blades in its worldwide portfolio of wind farms after the blades were decommissioned was announced last week by Denmark’s Orsted.
A collaboration between academia and industry that would be focused on the recycling of glass fiber products was announced in April which was a measure that could eventually help to reduce the waste produced by wind turbine blades.
A “multi-year agreement” for the recycling of wind turbine blades that are removed from onshore wind turbines in the United States was signed last December by GE Renewable Energy and Veolia North America. And in January 2020, wind energy giant Vestas said it was aiming to produce “zero-waste” turbines by the year 2040.
(Adapted from CNBC.com)