Spanish-German wind company Siemens Gamesa has this week unveiled what it says is the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade – the aptly named RecyclableBlade. The first six of these blades (measuring 81 metres) have been produced at the group’s blade factory in Aalborg, Denmark and are to be installed at the German Kaskasi offshore wind farm, with Siemens Gamesa collaborating with German utility RWE to get the project up and running. Power production from the site is expected to start in 2022.
The group also said it was in talks with EDF Renewables to deploy sets of its blades at future offshore wind farms.
”The time to tackle the climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way,” said Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Gamesa. “In pioneering wind circularity – where elements contribute to a circular economy of the wind industry – we have reached a major milestone in a society that puts care for the environment at its heart. The RecyclableBlade is another tangible example of how Siemens Gamesa is leading technological development in the wind industry.”
The problem of disposing of wind turbine materials is not an insignificant one. While the units work in great service of a clean economy, many of the components are not easily recyclable and so often end up in landfill. With installation of these turbines only anticipated to rise as regions look to ramp up wind power, finding effective ways of repurposing or recycling the materials is a worthy cause.
According to Siemens Gamesa, its blades tackle the problem through using a new type of resin which ‘makes it possible to efficiently separate the resin from the other components at the end of the blade’s working life’. The group says this process is a ‘mild’ one that protects materials as they are separated, allowing them to be repurposed in other applications.
The group has set a target of making all turbines fully recyclable by 2040 under its ‘Sustainability Vision’ initiative.
”Our aspiration is to produce wind turbines that can generate renewable electricity for 20-30 years,” said Gregorio Acero, Head of Quality Management & Health, Safety, and Environment at Siemens Gamesa. “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.”