Wind turbine blades photographed at a site in Denmark. The question of what to do with the blades when they are no longer needed is a headache for the industry.
Jonathanfilskov-photography | Istock | Getty Images
Spanish energy company Iberdrola has co-created a company that will recycle components used in renewable energy installations, 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 focus will be the recovery of wind turbine blade components – mainly glass and carbon fibers and resins – and their reuse in sectors such as energy, aerospace, automotive, textiles , chemicals and construction,” the company said.
EnergyLOOP was launched by Iberdrola through PERSEO — its “international program for startups” — and FCC Ámbito. The latter is a subsidiary of FCC Servicios Medio Ambiente.
Iberdrola said EnergyLOOP will also benefit from the support of Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy, a major player in the manufacture of wind turbines.
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 blades made from composite materials can prove difficult to recycle, meaning many end up in landfills at the end of their lifespan.
As the number of wind turbines in use increases, the subject seems set to become even more pressing. Iberdrola said it is estimated that around 5,700 wind turbines will be dismantled in Europe each year in 2030.
Iberdrola is one of many companies investigating the potential for recycling and reusing wind turbine blades, a goal that fuels the idea of creating a circular economy.
The concept has gained traction in recent years, with many businesses now looking to operate in a way that minimizes waste and encourages reuse.
In September 2021, for example, Siemens Gamesa said it had launched a recyclable wind turbine blade, with the company claiming its RecyclableBlades were “the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades ready for offshore commercial use”.
A few months earlier, in June 2021, Denmark’s Orsted said it would “reuse, recycle or salvage” all wind turbine blades in its global portfolio of wind farms once they are decommissioned.
This June also saw General Electric’s renewable energy unit and cement maker Holcim strike a deal to explore the recycling of wind turbine blades.
In January 2020, another wind energy giant, Vestas, said it was aiming to produce “zero waste” wind turbines by 2040.