“This signals a new era for the wind industry,” Vestas said in a statement. If it’s implemented at scale, the technology can be used on both old blades sitting in landfills and those in active wind farms, the company added.
It’s a potential solution for what could be a massive sustainability problem for the wind industry. Industry body Wind Europe has previously estimated that about 25,000 metric tons of blades a year will be decommissioned by 2025, rising to 52,000 tons a year by 2030. The group has called on European authorities to ban blades from going into landfills.
Separately, Siemens Energy AG’s turbine unit has developed a blade using alternative materials that could be recycled. However, they would only be potentially recycled when they’re eventually decommissioned and don’t solve the existing waste issue.
Vestas’s process is the result of joint initiative including Denmark’s Aarhus University and US-based Olin Corp. The company now plans to move it from the lab to a pilot project for two years, before rolling it out on a commercial scale. Its cost hasn’t been disclosed.