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Tackling turbine waste

By Elana Knopp, Senior Content Writer, Edison Energy

Innovation will be key to accelerating the clean energy transition and reaching a net zero economy. Edison Energy is following the latest innovations in decarbonization across technologies, projects, and programs, from conception through completion

The innovation

Tackling turbine waste

The big picture

Recycling and repurposing decommissioned project materials will help ensure that the renewables sector delivers on its sustainability goals, while also creating local jobs and supporting a circular economy.

The players

Fred. Olsen Renewables and ReBlade, both based in the UK.

How it works

The innovative partnership will explore solutions for recycling and repurposing turbine blades from the Windy Standard Wind Farm, which has been operating in southwest Scotland for more than 25 years.

Fred. Olsen Renewables is proposing to repower the first phase of the wind farm, which would see the removal of 36 turbines and up to eight wind turbines erected in their place. The decommissioning process will release various materials, including more than 100 turbine blades.

Blades in poor condition could potentially be shredded down, with the shredded material used by researchers to help inform pyrolysis development or fiber recovery technology.

Blades in reasonably good condition will be repurposed, with the partnership exploring opportunities to create items made from the blades for local use such as playgrounds, bus shelters, and bike racks.

“Our approach to product design is that if you can make it from wood, you can make it from a blade – albeit that a turbine blade is a lot more challenging to work with than wood,” according to ReBlade.

Photo Credit: ReBlade

The table and bench (pictured) are made from decommissioned turbine blades, which flew many millions of miles during their operational lifespans, generating green electricity. The items are examples of the types of products that could be designed from the decommissioned Windy Standard blades.

Why it matters

Wind turbine blades are inert waste; they do not decompose and are notoriously difficult to recycle and repurpose. The collaboration will help establish best practice across the wind energy sector by prioritizing the development of sustainable decommissioning methods at an early stage in the project repowering process.

Next steps

While ReBlade is currently scaling up for larger decommissioning projects, the company also decommissions and sustainably disposes of blades, nacelles, and hubs on a small scale across Europe. Each project is expected to refine operations and inform cost-effective decommissioning, while also minimizing waste going into landfills once the first generation of wind farms are decommissioned or repowered.


Stay tuned for the next installment of the Energy Edge Innovation Series!