No source of energy is completely clean. Batteries require the extraction of rare earth minerals and their accumulation in landfills, biomass plants need agricultural products, etc.
But the world’s largest turbine manufacturer is making sure that at least wind power generates as few by-products as possible, pushing to create 100% recyclable wind turbine blades.
With 18% of the global market share for wind energy, Vestas is the first wind energy company to commit to producing fully recyclable blades.
Giant wind turbine blades are made from a heated carbon fiber and glass mixture along with sticky epoxy resin, and these materials typically cannot be separated once combined, meaning they are dumped in the landfill when they are too battered to do so. operate safely. .
Aware that the global market for wind energy is growing by about 3% per year, Vestas explains that they may see a problem in the making and are looking to get ahead. The company plans to address the recyclability issue for the next 20 years, until they are operating with zero waste by 2040.
Reuters reports that Vestas has introduced a new chemical technology that separates epoxy resin from glass and carbon fiber, thus removing hard material and converting epoxy into its constituent elements. All these components, the the company says, it can be reused to manufacture new turbine blades.
Generally, a wind turbine lasts between 20 and 25 years, at which point the owner can order its dismantling or repair it with new parts. Typically, 75% of all waste generated by decommissioning comes from shovels. Vestas wants to be able to recycle 50% of sheet material in just a few years by investing in new recycling technology and new sheet materials that are easier to recycle, and doing more and more in terms of recycling every year.
“We have spent a lot of time on the approach to creating zero-waste turbines because we know that this new strategic approach could be the new standard for future turbines,” says Peter Garrett of Vestas. That look to the future is good news for all of us.
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