Siemens Gamesa has become the first company to debut a commercially-available wind turbine blade that can be recycled at the end of its lifecycle.
Dubbed the RecylableBlade, this is the first time that the components of a wind turbine blade could see a new lease of life after they reach their natural end atop a wind turbine. That’s because these blades are developed from a combination of materials cast together with a resin that can be easily separated from the other components.
Previously it’s been difficult to recycle wind turbine blades as there was no way to separate all these components. The Siemens Gamesa RecylableBlade means that the materials that make up these components can be reused in new applications after separating.
Of course, this isn’t the first time we’ve seen blades that could potentially be recycled. In fact, earlier this year the University of Strathclyde showed off a new process which could help with the recyclability of existing wind turbine blades. However, these new blades from Siemens Gamesa represent the first time recyclable blades have been commercialised.
Commercialising recyclable blades
Siemens Games has already produced the first six 81-meter long RecyclableBlades at its blade factory in Aalborg, Denmark. However, while the blades are ready to go, they won’t be producing any energy until next year. That’s when they will be operational at the Kaskasi offshore wind power plant in Germany, with RWE committing to install and monitor the blades.
Sven Utermöhlen, CEO Wind Offshore, RWE Renewables, commented, “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.”
RWE isn’t the only firm looking to acquire the new RecyclableBlades, with EDF Renewables and WPD Offshore also aiming to deploy several sets of the new blades 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, noted, “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 mobilized 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.”
Achim Berge Olsen, CEO of WPD Offshore and COO of WPD Group, added, “For the last 20 years, wpd actively contributed to the sustainable development of the offshore wind industry. Through this cooperation in the recycling technology program of Siemens Gamesa, we’re making another step forward for the industry, which makes us enthusiastic regarding sustainability of the supply chain in the future.”
The future of a fully recyclable wind turbine
While Siemens Gamesa has debuted recyclable wind turbine blades, the company has its sights set on creating a fully recyclable wind turbine by 2040. Of course, many components of a wind turbine, such as the tower and nacelle components have established recycling practices, but there are still areas which are more difficult to recycle. The blade was one key area that Siemens Gamesa believes it has now solved.
“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,” said Gregorio Acero, Head of Quality Management & Health, Safety, and Environment at Siemens Gamesa.
Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Gamesa, concluded, “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. The RecyclableBlade is another tangible example of how Siemens Gamesa is leading technological development in the wind industry.”