Wind turbine blades taken at a site in Denmark. The question of what to do with knives when they are no longer needed is a headache for the industry.

Jonathanfilskov-photography | Source | Getty Images

Spanish energy company Iberdrola has jointly set up a company to recycle components used in renewable energy plants, including wind turbine blades.

In a statement last week, Iberdrola said the company, known as EnergyLOOP, would develop a blade recycling facility in Navarre, northern Spain.

“The initial goal will be to rebuild wind turbine blade components – mainly glass and carbon fibers and resins – and reuse them in sectors such as energy, aerospace, automotive, textiles, chemicals and construction,” the company said.

EnergyLOOP was launched by Iberdrola through PERSEO – its “international start-up program” – and FCC Ámbito. The latter is a subsidiary of FCC Servicios Medio Ambiente.

Iberdrola said EnergyLOOP will also be supported by Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, a major player in wind turbine manufacturing.

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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 from which the blades are made can be difficult to recycle, which means that many of them end up in landfills when their service life expires.

As the number of wind turbines used increases, the issue seems to become even more pressing. Iberdrola said it is estimated that approximately 5,700 wind turbines will be dismantled in Europe each year in 2030.

Iberdrola is one of several companies looking at the potential for recycling and reusing wind turbine blades, a goal that is fueled by the idea of ​​creating a circular economy.

The concept has gained popularity in recent years, with many companies now striving to work in ways that minimize waste and encourage reuse.

In September 2021, for example, Siemens Gamesa announced that it had launched a recyclable wind turbine blade, claiming that its RecyclableBlades were “the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades ready for commercial use at sea.”

A few months earlier, in June 2021, Denmark’s Orsted said it would “reuse, recycle or rebuild” all turbine blades in its global wind farm portfolio once they are decommissioned.

In June, General Electric’s renewables unit and cement maker Holcim also struck a deal to study wind turbine blade recycling.

In January 2020, another wind energy giant, Vestas, said it was aiming to produce zero-waste turbines by 2040.

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