Many countries are looking to reduce their dependence on fossil fuels, as climate change concerns have been increasing to alarming levels in recent years. Wind energy is one of these more sustainable options that are most in-demand. Wind turbines are a common feature in places like Denmark, where more than half the electricity is generated by wind and solar energy.
There are pros and cons to wind power, and some disadvantages have been exposed in recent years. One of the most important is the possibility of recycling decommissioned blades from wind turbines.
Because wind turbines need to work properly, they are made from a combination of materials such as glass fibers, resins, and foams. These substances are non-biodegradable, making them very difficult to recycle.
A large number of wind turbine blades with a lifespan of approximately 20 years will have to be retired soon. It is estimated that there will be nearly 40 million tons of wind industry waste by 2050.
There are many companies and research organizations that are working to find sustainable ways to recycle or repurpose retired wind turbine blades.
The Re-Wind Network is one of them. They have already begun to repurpose some of the blades into bike garages in Denmark. Researchers are also exploring ways to reuse wind turbine blades to improve infrastructure.
They envision using the blades for pedestrian footbridges and skate parks as well as noise barriers to reduce road and highway traffic.
These repurposing efforts are not the only ones. Some companies are also looking for ways to make wind turbine blades that can more efficiently and sustainably be disposed of.
Siemens Gamesa, a leading renewable energy company is leading this effort by launching the “world’s first commercially recyclable wind turbine blade.” The blades are made of a new type of resin that is easier to separate the components from each other so they can be recycled.
For now, however, it seems that repurposed wind turbines could be used as urban fixtures.