Wind Turbine Giant Says It Has a Solution That Will Keep Blades Out of Landfills

Source: By Will Mathis, Bloomberg • Posted: Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Vestas unveils chemical solution to break up, recycle blades Process could keep used turbine blades out of garbage dumps

Vestas says it has developed a solution that allows blades to be broken down and recycled.

Vestas says it has developed a solution that allows blades to be broken down and recycled. Source: Vestas Wind Systems A/S

Wind turbines face an unsustainable dilemma: after decades of producing renewable energy, their seemingly indestructible blades often end up in garbage dumps, left to remain for years.

Now, Denmark’s Vestas Wind Systems A/S, the world’s largest producer of wind turbines, says it has developed a chemical solution that allows the blades — made with durable epoxy resin — to be broken down and recycled.

It’s a potential solution for what could be a massive sustainability problem for the wind industry. Industry body Wind Europe has previously estimated that about 25,000 metric tons of blades a year will be decommissioned by 2025, rising to 52,000 tons a year by 2030. The group has called on European authorities to ban blades from going into landfills.

Separately, Siemens Energy AG’s turbine unit has developed a blade using alternative materials that could be recycled. However, they would only be potentially recycled when they’re eventually decommissioned and don’t solve the existing waste issue.

Vestas’s process is the result of joint initiative including Denmark’s Aarhus University and US-based Olin Corp. The company now plans to move it from the lab to a pilot project for two years, before rolling it out on a commercial scale. Its cost hasn’t been disclosed.