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Huge offshore wind farm to use recyclable turbine blades

A wind turbine at the Ormond Offshore Wind Farm in the Irish Sea. As governments around the world try to ramp up their renewable energy capacity, the number of wind turbines around the world is only set to rise, which in turn will increase pressure on the sector for sustainable blade recycling solutions.

Ashley Cooper | Documentary about Corbis | Getty Images

A major offshore wind farm under construction in the waters off the coast of the Netherlands will use recyclable blades from Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, the latest in a string of companies trying to solve what has turned out to be a problem for the wind energy sector.

In a statement on Thursday, Swedish energy company Vattenfall said some wind turbines at the 1.5 gigawatt Hollandse Kust Zuid facility will use Siemens Gamesa’s RecycableBlades. These blades, according to Wattenfall, use “a type of resin that dissolves in a low-temperature, slightly acidic solution.”

This, the company explained, allows the resin to be separated from the other components of the blade – carbon fiber, wood, fiberglass, metal and plastic – “without significantly affecting their properties.” The components can then be recycled and used again.

The offshore construction of Hollandse Kust Zuid, which will use 140 wind turbines, began in July 2021. It is jointly owned by Vattenfall, Allianz and BASF and is scheduled to enter service in 2023.

Industry headache

The question of what to do with wind turbine blades when they are no longer needed is a headache for the industry. This is because the composite materials that the blades are made from are difficult to recycle, meaning that many of them end up in landfills when they reach the end of their useful life.

As governments around the world try to ramp up their renewable energy capacity, the number of wind turbines around the world is only set to rise, which in turn will increase pressure on the sector for sustainable blade recycling solutions.

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