Vestas Unveils New Recycling Technology for Old Turbines
Danish wind energy giant Vestas, in collaboration with Aarhus University, has unveiled a new process that can recycle wind turbine blades and make them into new ones.
Environmental degradation ironically has been a problem for clean energy generation for a while now. This has been well documented and is well known by the general public and industry professionals alike. For example, the minerals that are required in order to create batteries and solar panels are mined using dangerous and environmentally damaging processes that, in some cases, do just as much harm as the energy generated from the end product does good.
This unfortunate hypocrisy just gives ammunition to fossil fuel lobbyists who love an opportunity to distract the public from the damage they themselves do, as well as discrediting the environmental movement as a whole. In spite of this, there have been major pushes in order to change the narrative surrounding this with real change.
Vestas, one of the largest wind turbine manufacturers in the world, has just announced a new process that can recycle old decommissioned turbine blades into raw materials that can be manufactured into new turbines, getting old blades out of the landfill where they pollute the environment and into new projects that can help save it.
This novel chemical disassembly process was developed by Vestas in collaboration with Aarhus University, Olin, and the Danish Technological Institute as part of an initiative called CTEC (Circular Economy for Thermosets Epoxy Composites). This initiative was established in May of 2021 in order to address the need for recycling technology for epoxy resins.
They aim to establish full circularity in the manufacture of wind turbines, which is steadily becoming one of the most powerful technologies in renewable energy. Currently, wind turbine blades aren’t being recycled because the blades require the use of fibreglass and epoxy resin, which, as it’s mixed together, makes it incredibly difficult to separate. This is important because otherwise, the blades themselves wouldn’t be strong enough to handle the stress of wind energy generation.
As the chemicals in question used in the chemical disassembly process are widely available, researchers believe that this solution can be quickly industrialized, scaling up the number of wind turbines that can be recycled into new blades. As the world continues to transition to clean technology to power its future, it is absolutely essential that the actual creation of renewable energy technologies establishes clean practices early on, making this development crucial.
Fossil fuel companies are not easily going to roll over, as their profit motive is incredibly high, especially in the context of recent world events. This is shown in their continued attacks on clean energy as a viable alternative economically, socially, or environmentally.
Recycling old wind turbines into new ones is a step in the right direction. However, as this is a new technology that hasn’t been implemented into the entire industry yet, only time will tell if this is going to be realistic – as is with any new technology. But as the establishment of CTEC shows, our best and our brightest are working on the solution as we speak.