While wind power is seen as a cornerstone of renewable energy production policies around the world, the wind turbines themselves, and especially the blades, have been comprised of components and materials that can be challenging to recycle. Although the recycling routes have been established for the tower and nacelle components, the composite materials from which the blades are conventionally produced have long been considered unrecyclable.
New technology developed by Siemens Gamesa can change all that. The company recently announced the launch of world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade for commercial use offshore - a breakthrough representing a crucial step towards the company’s goal to make turbines fully recyclable by 2040.
Called, aptly enough, the RecyclableBlade, it is made from a combination of materials cast together with resin to form a strong and flexible lightweight structure. The chemical structure of this new resin type makes it possible to efficiently separate the resin from the other components at end of the blade’s working life. Hence, the properties of the materials used to produce the blade remain intact, in contrast to the current practices applied in recycling conventional wind turbine blades. The materials can then be reused in new applications after separation.
The first six 81-meter long RecyclableBlades have been produced at the Siemens Gamesa blade factory in Aalborg, Denmark. The company is working closely with RWE to install and pilot the new blades at the Kaskasi offshore wind power plant in Germany for the first time, with current plans for the project to be producing energy from 2022 onwards. It is also exploring with EDF Renewables the possibility of deploying several sets of RecyclableBlade at a future offshore wind farm, as well as with wpd group at one of their future offshore wind power plants
Siemens Gamesa recently launched an ambitious Sustainability Vision towards 2040, in which it announced its goal to make turbines fully recyclable by 2040.
“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.”