Recycle, Repurpose and Reuse End-Of-Life Wind Blade Composites
Currently, blades from decommissioned wind turbines are regarded as unrecyclable waste, and most end up in landfills. The newly launched EU-funded project Blades2Build with 14 partners from research and industry across Europe will explore and demonstrate on a large scale how to recycle, repurpose and reuse wind turbine blade waste in a sustainable way. The project will run for three years starting January 2023 and will leverage collaboration between multiple industrial partners and leading European universities across eight countries in Europe.
By 2030, renewable energy sources and infrastructures, such as onshore and offshore wind energy, are expected to increase by 40 % in Europe. The investment into new wind energy infrastructure implies an update of the current wind turbines, resulting in waste of the composite materials that constitute blades.
With very limited recycling options available today, thousands of blades end up in landfills when they reach the end of their service lives, typically after 20-25 years. It is estimated that by 2050, wind turbine blades will generate more than 2 Mt waste annually, and cumulative blade waste in 2050 will lie between 21.4 Mt and 69.4 Mt worldwide. Therefore, new circular options and innovative solutions for decommissioned wind turbine blades will be explored in this project.
In Blades2Build, those involved in the project will evaluate and demonstrate at a large scale, potentially sustainable, easy-to-apply, and economically viable ways to recycle, repurpose, reuse and recover wind turbine blades and related materials. As one part of it, a large-scale industrial demonstration plant will be built in Spain to develop and scale up technologies that make it possible to convert waste blades into new circular materials, such as green cement or aggregate materials to serve multiple purposes in the construction industry, and reduce the amount of virgin materials needed in the field.
Thus, the project will lead to a significant reduction of the continuously increasing composite waste, considerable landfill avoidance, enormous resource preservation, longer life of manufactured composite components, etc., in the related industries. This will contribute to a positive transformation of the energy landscape with higher penetration of renewable energy sources, leading to a substantial reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and decarbonization of the energy sector, contributing to the goals of the EU Green Deal.
Blades2Build also aims to initiate a knowledge hub connecting all stakeholders within the wind energy sector, including policymakers, NGOs, end-users, service providers, industrials, etc. to ensure collaboration and knowledge exchange and optimize technologies, systems, and standards.
The project is funded by the European Union through the European Commission call HORIZON-CL5-2022-D3-01-02.
For further information about the project, the consortium and its partners, please refer to the full press release, available on Blades2Build website.