The world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades will be tested this summer at RWE’s Kaskasi project in the German North Sea.
The 81-meter-long Siemens Gamesa RecyclableBlades, laid-up in the OEM’s factory in Hull, UK, employs a next-generation resin that makes it possible to separate the fibreglass fibres at the end of a blade’s life for reuse in other products.
“This is not a normal rotor blade. It's a global first,” said the RWE CEO Markus Krebber, in a LinkedIn post.
“[The] new kind of resin [being employed] now enables the fibres to be separated and reused after the 25-year lifetime of the rotor blade comes to an end. They can be utilised in the automotive or consumer goods industry, for example.
“For me this is a great example of how constant innovation makes wind power even more efficient and sustainable.”
While some 85-90% of a wind turbine is already recyclable, blades have historically been ‘dumped’ on landfills. Industry group WindEurope last year demanded a ban on the practice in the EU and the UK by 2025 to accelerate key sustainability technologies.
Siemens Gamesa peers Vestas and GE Renewable Energy also have initiatives underway on ‘sustainable’ turbine blades, with the GE-subsidiary earlier this year unveiling the prototype of an ‘eco-design’ model fashioned from thermoplastics and a recyclable resin.
There is also technique that promises to recycle scrapped wind turbine blades into “near-virgin quality” glass fibres for re-use under development by Norway’s Aker Horizons and the University of Strathclyde, in Scotland.
Kaskasi has taken shape as a laboratory for new offshore wind technologies, including novel noise-reducing vibro-piling for turbine foundations and a ‘collared’ monopile that promises improved load-bearing properties.