End-of-life policy considerations for wind turbine blades

January 19, 2024

Over the past ten years, the growth of wind energy has been significant. Wind power uses the kinetic energy of the wind to produce electric energy without generating green house gas emissions. However, when considering the whole life cycle of wind turbines it is obvious that wind energy is not totally clean. With a lifetime of 20–25 years for a wind turbine, it is predicted that the cumulative composite waste from blades will be needed to be recycled will be in the tens of thousands of tons worldwide by 2050. This poses a potential significant waste legacy that must be addressed. Solutions to deal with waste from wind turbine blades currently involves the three different pathways, direct deposit in a landfill, incineration, and recycling. Unfortunately, only 30% of fibre-reinforced plastic material commonly used in wind turbine blades can currently be reused to form new composite materials, with most going to the cement industry as filler material. It is important that all involved stakeholders work towards regulations that will address the management of waste coming from wind turbine blades. Fortunately, legislations exist in various jurisdictions which can be used as a model for the creation of a regulative framework for the end-of-life management of wind turbine blades.
Peter Majewski, Nick Florin, Joytishna Jit, Rodney Anthony Stewart
Peter Majewski, Nick Florin, Joytishna Jit, Rodney Anthony Stewart. (2022), End-of-life policy considerations for wind turbine blades. Renewable and Sustainable Energy Reviews 164. Doi.org/10.1016/j.rser.2022.112538