Global wind giants Orsted and Vestas have forged a ‘commercial sustainability’ partnership in a bid to find a cost-effective path for low-carbon steel and recycled materials in offshore turbine towers and blades.

Under the terms of the partnership, Orsted will procure the low-carbon components from Vestas in all offshore wind projects developed jointly by the pair.

The partnership carries a commitment that, for all joint future offshore wind farms, the two companies will procure and install a minimum of 25% low-carbon steel towers.

By utilising scrap steel manufactured with on-site renewable electricity, the partners state that carbon emissions from heavy steel plates used in towers can be reduced by up to 70%.

Orsted said the partnership was a response to growing demands from policymakers that emissions be squeezed out of the manufacturing process for materials and components.

The Danish wind farm developer stated that tackling emissions “requires cost-efficient solutions to address the most critical decarbonisation and circularity challenges in the wind industry, namely steel and blades.”

The company said these solutions will include installation of low-carbon steel towers and “when commercially available, blades made from recycled materials at all future joint offshore wind farms.”

By committing to integrate sustainable procurement in all future offshore projects carried out jointly between the two companies, Orsted said it would help create ongoing demand for what it described as Vestas’ “innovative low-carbon and circular solutions.”

Recycling blades

Vestas and its research partners have pioneered a chemical process that can break down composite materials in epoxy-based blades or landfill material and use the recovered epoxy resin for new blades.

According to the turbine manufacturer the new process addresses the challenge to circularity for blades in operation today.

Vestas is currently scaling up the circular recycling value chain together with its partners Olin and Stena Recycling.

Vestas chief executive Henrik Andersen described the Orsted partnership as a leap forward for developing circular wind power projects. He stated: “The energy transition requires unprecedented scale and pace, and we need strong partnerships between leading companies and industries to succeed.”

Mads Nipper, Orsted chief executive added: “There’s no playing defence when it comes to climate change. And no progress without partnerships.

“Together with Vestas, we’re leading the industry towards net-zero, and I urge decision-makers across the globe to also take action and help drive demand for low-carbon and circular solutions within renewable energy.”