‘This Signals a New Era for the Wind Industry’: Vestas Announces Chemical Recycling Method for Turbine Blades
Danish wind turbine maker Vestas has announced that it has developed a chemical mixture that breaks down wind turbine blades and allows them to be recycled. The solution could be used to break down discontinued blades, as well as blades that are already sitting in landfills.
The chemical compound — developed with the help of the Danish Technological Institute, Aarhus University and epoxy maker Olin — breaks down epoxy resin into its raw materials, reported Electrek.
Previously, epoxy resin’s chemical properties were viewed as impossible to disassemble and reuse.
The solution “renders epoxy-based turbine blades as circular, without the need for changing the design or composition of blade material,” Vestas said in a press release.
With more than 27,000 tons of wind turbine blades expected to come to the end of their operational life by 2025 and more than 57,000 tons by 2030, according to WindEurope, the new solution could save the planet a lot of waste.
“This signals a new era for the wind industry, and accelerates our journey towards achieving circularity,” vice president and head of sustainability at Vestas Lisa Ekstrand said in the press release.
Ekstrand said the wind industry had previously thought it would be necessary to redesign or remanufacture turbine blade material in order for it to be recyclable, Electrek reported.
“Going forward, we can now view old epoxy-based blades as a source of raw material. Once this new technology is implemented at scale, legacy blade material currently sitting in landfill, as well as blade material in active wind farms, can be disassembled and reused,” Ekstrand said in the press release.
Vestas said the chemical decomposition process can now be made a part of a new value chain with the aid of Olin and Nordic company Stena Recycling.
“In the coming years, thousands of turbines will be decommissioned or repowered, representing a major sustainability challenge but also a valuable source of composite materials. As one of Europe’s leading recycling groups with a wide footprint in Europe, we have a central role in the transition to a circular economy. We see this solution as a huge opportunity to take part in making a sustainable solution even more sustainable and circular and are ready to apply our chemical recycling expertise and knowledge to this process,” said Henrik Grand Petersen, managing director of Stena Recycling Denmark in the press release.
In the future, the process will enable Vestas to produce new wind turbine blades from recycled blade material. It also means all composite material that is epoxy based has the potential to be a source of raw materials for other industries.
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