Anne Velenturf, a senior research fellow at the UK’s University of Leeds, has won the prestigious Poul La Cour prize for her work in the recyclability of renewables infrastructure and the circular economy.

The award – handed out annually by WindEurope for outstanding achievements in the field of wind power – was this year given in recognition of “paramount” important of her research “into a circular economy framework for wind energy [that] urges the industry to do more to deliver the most sustainable wind farms possible– both on- and offshore”.

“Anne Velenturf’s research will have a great impact on the sustainability and circularity of the wind industry,” said WindEurope deputy CEO Malgosia Bartosik, adding: “It is great to see the award going to a young female scientist. Countless women play active and key roles in our industry.

“It is important this is recognised and the participation of women in our industry is facilitated.”

Velenturf said: “It’s such an honour to receive this award. I was so surprised. I am hugely grateful to those who nominated me and the awarding panel. I have very much enjoyed working with the wind industry since 2017 and am amazed about the speed at which circular economy approaches are starting to be picked up.

“For the sustainable upscaling of wind energy infrastructure, it is essential to consider circular economy proactively from the design stage onwards.”

The selection criteria for the prize were expanded for 2021 to include the “many new professional areas” such as circularity, digitalisation and sustainability that have “grown up around the wind industry”.

“It is a recognition that today these new professions are just as important as the core part the industry,” said Bartosik.

Poul la Cour Foundation’s chairman Bjarke Thomassen said: “The expansion of the selection criteria has led to a larger spread in the candidates’ subject area compared to before. The selection of Anne Velenturf has shown that in these new subject areas there are highly qualified people with an invaluable knowledge for the future development of the wind turbine industry.”

Sustainability is quickly emerging as a key priority for wind sector, with WindEurope recently calling for a landfill ban of turbine blades by 2025 and recycling, remanufacturing and reusing becoming increasingly important topics.