The energy mix in the United States has shifted significantly in recent years. Wind and solar energy capacity has skyrocketed and continues on an upward trend. Wind energy generated 7% of the total electricity in the United States in 2019. Since 2008, the use of coal-fired power plants has declined, as the use of renewable energy and natural gas has increased. Wind energy is an excellent way to reduce carbon emissions, but what happens when the wind turbine blades wear out? Is there a looming waste disposal issue? Looming Waste Management Issues The design life of wind turbines is about 20 to 25 years . The longest wind turbine blade to date is 350 feet, almost the length of a football field. Although certain parts of wind turbines can be relatively easily recycled , others are not designed for recyclability. In particular, wind turbine blades present the biggest waste management challenge, but researchers from the National Renewable Energy Lab (NREL) in partnership with Arkema Inc. are making progress in this area . Most wind turbine blades are currently constructed with composite material infused with a thermoset resin, which makes them highly durable to withstand storms and the elements. Unfortunately, […]

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