Wed.
Sep 22
2021

Siemens Gamesa aims to stick with the sustainable values underpinning its business, as it starts production of recyclable blades for commercial offshore wind arrays.

The company has produced the first 6 of the 81-meter long RecyclableBlades in Denmark, as it seeks to make whole turbines fully recyclable by 2040. It has an agreement with RWE to install and pilot the blades at Kaskasi offshore wind power plant in Germany. That project aims to produce energy from 2022 onwards. It also has agreements with EDF Renewables and wpd for future use, according to a statement.

“The time to tackle climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way,” Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Gamesa, said.

More than 200GW of new offshore wind capacity is expected to be installed over the next decade as policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions gain footing, according to the Global Wind Energy Council. That massive build out, an increase in several orders of magnitude, will certainly look a lot better with the use of sustainable practices.

In parallel, rival wind turbine producer Vestas has a similar project. Neither provided information on the costs involved with the new technology for recycling blades.

There are established recycling practices for many components of a wind turbine, such as the tower and nacelle. However, until now, the composite materials used in wind turbine blades have been more challenging to recycle, according to the statement. This technology allows for the separation of the materials in the blade at the end of its lifetime.

Blades are made from different materials cast together with resin to form a strong and flexible lightweight blade. This new type of resin can be separated from the other components at end of the blade’s working life. The materials can then be reused in new applications after separation.

Siemens Gamesa aims for turbines with a 20-30 year generating life, said Gregorio Acero, Head of Quality Management & Health, Safety, and Environment at Siemens Gamesa.

“When they reach the end of their useful life, we can separate the materials and use them for new relevant applications,” he said.

The new build in wind turbines both onshore and offshore will be significant. The volumes, however, won’t be at a level where disposal of blades is a major environmental issue or a problem. So don’t look for equipment manufacturers to rush this one into mainstream use.

That said, they will get there. For a business that has gotten such a push from policy makers and subsidies, the ability to maintain the proper optics will continue to be a major plank of the business.

So look for wind equipment manufactures to dance with the one that brought them to the ball, so to speak. That means recyclable blades are on the way.

By Stephen Bierman

Stephen Bierman is an energy markets journalist and the editor of New Economy Observer.

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