Wind power is one of the cornerstones in the quest to tackle the climate emergency. With more than 200GW of new offshore capacity projected by the Global Wind Energy Council to be installed by 2030, it is critical to quickly introduce recyclable wind turbine solutions.
As such, Siemens Gamesa pioneered wind circularity by recently launching the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade for commercial use offshore, the RecyclableBlade.
The technology used means that separation of the materials in the blade is possible at the end of its lifetime, enabling recycling into new applications and thereby defines the next milestone in sustainability.
Many components of a wind turbine, such as the tower and nacelle components have established recycling practices. Until now, the composite materials used in wind turbine blades have been more challenging to recycle. According to Siemens Gamesa, the RecyclableBlade is built on proven, reliable processes and breaks this mould and is the first of its kind, enabling recycling at the end of its lifecycle, and sets the path to a future where the full recyclability of projects will be a market requirement.
“The time to tackle climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way. In pioneering wind circularity – where elements contribute to a circular economy of the wind industry – we have reached a major milestone in a society that puts care for the environment at its heart,” states Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Gamesa.
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First deployments of recyclable wind turbine
Siemens Gamesa is committed with RWE to install and monitor the world’s first wind turbines with recyclable blades in Germany at the Kaskasi offshore wind power plant. Current plans are for the project to be producing energy from 2022 onwards.
Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Wind Offshore, RWE Renewables, said: “We are pleased that our offshore wind farm Kaskasi is able to provide a fantastic facility for testing innovations; here we are preparing to test special steel collars and to use an improved installation method for foundations. Now, Kaskasi installs the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blade manufactured by Siemens Gamesa. This is a significant step in advancing the sustainability of wind turbines to the next level.”
Siemens Gamesa is working with EDF Renewables with the aim to deploy several sets of RecyclableBlade at a future offshore wind farm.
Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group Senior Executive Vice-President Renewable Energies and Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of EDF Renewables, declared: “We are very enthusiastic to collaborate with industrial players, such as Siemens Gamesa, to contribute to the progress of the recycling technology solutions in the wind energy sector. EDF Renewables’ team is fully mobilised to develop this pioneer technology with its suppliers with the aim to continuously improve the environmental sustainability of our projects. This agreement is in line with EDF Group Raison d’être: to conciliate the production of low carbon electricity that benefits the climate and the reduction of local environmental impacts.”
Technological advancement in wind turbines
The wind turbine blades are made from a combination of materials cast together with resin to form a strong and flexible lightweight structure. The chemical structure of this new resin type makes it possible to efficiently separate the resin from the other components at end of the blade’s working life.
This mild process protects the properties of the materials in the blade, in contrast to other existing ways of recycling conventional wind turbine blades. The materials can then be reused in new applications after separation.
Fully recyclable wind turbine by 2040
Gregorio Acero, Head of Quality Management & Health, Safety, and Environment at Siemens Gamesa, said: “Our aspiration is to produce wind turbines that can generate renewable electricity for 20-30 years. When they reach the end of their useful life, we can separate the materials and use them for new relevant applications. The RecyclableBlade is a great step in that direction and well ahead of our 2040 goal.”