In the coming decades, the EU intends to build at least 60 gigawatts of offshore wind capacity by 2030 and 300 gigawatts by 2050. The UK has ambitious plans as well. By 2030, it wants 40 gigawatts of offshore capacity. Outside of Europe, offshore wind energy investments are also on the rise. In addition, onshore wind energy is gaining popularity, but obtaining green energy presents many challenges. The fate of worn-out shovels is one of them.
Several organizations promoting renewable energy have called for a ban on the disposal of shovels in landfills across Europe since several parts are not recyclable. According to the market database, it has been estimated that 15,000 turbine blade units will reach their end in the United Kingdom and EU by 2023. As the future unfolds, there will be an increase in waste production.
Register now to get free 10 year market forecast of Windmill Blades market research report
The blades are made from composite materials with a heterogeneous structure consisting of several components with different properties, making recycling difficult. Essentially, they combine epoxy glue with fiberglass. Some technologies allow composite materials to be recycled through mechanical, thermal, or chemical processes. However, the issue is the cost and quality of the recycling. It is estimated that by 2050, turbine blades will account for 43 million tons of waste. It is imperative to address this issue, as we move towards zero waste, increased environmental awareness, and responsible action.
Vestas to Produce Recyclable Wind Turbines
According to the market database, earlier this year, Vestas, a Denmark-based company announced that their wind turbines would produce zero waste by 2040. To begin with, it plans to manufacture recyclable axles and blades from 44 percent to 50 percent in 2025 and 55 percent in 2030. The Vestas concept of zero waste refers to the conservation of materials and resources in all aspects of production and consumption, including recycling, reusing, and recovering materials without incineration.
In general, turbines have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years, but some units have been operational for over three decades. According to the company, most of the turbines are recyclable since they are mainly composed of steel, copper, and other metals. There is also the possibility of recycling other parts, such as electrical components and cables. The foundations and towers of hybrid buildings are reusable since they contain a large amount of concrete.In addition, the turbine contains about 50 tons of non-metallic materials, such as paint, composites (carbon fiber, glass and epoxy), glue, and rubber. According to the market database, recycling these non-metallic materials requires special procedures. The company works extensively with manufacturers, universities, and retailers to develop alternatives intended to replace non-recyclable materials.
Vortex to Manufacture Bladeless Turbines
A Spanish company known as Vortex Bladeless has developed a wind energy system shaped like a miniature turbine tower. It does not have blades and generates energy by “wobbling” in the wind instead of spinning. Later this year, the system will be beta tested in Europe.
As part of an EU-funded project, the company developed the oscillating wind towers as a low-cost, low-maintenance, and low-noise alternative to wind turbines. It works by wobbling as the air passes around it and building up vortices behind it, a phenomenon known as vortex shedding. When the vortices build up in the cylinder, an alternator converts the movement into electricity by oscillating a rod connected vertically to the rod. Various wind speeds are optimized dynamically by magnets for more efficient generating.
Market database states that due to the simple design, the wind energy generators require little maintenance, generate little or no noise, and are relatively easy to install.
As a result, there is less impact on the wildlife and the environment than conventional bladed turbines. Additionally, the company claims that tests have revealed that Vortex columns generate electricity for roughly 30% less than conventional wind turbines largely because of their low manufacturing costs and ease of installation.
In addition, the company asserts that the technology has attracted interest from two of the world’s largest wind energy companies. One of the companies has proposed launching a joint venture to explore whether or not it is possible to scale up the technology commercially. The Windmill Blades market and its 10-year business outlook can be understood using Global Market Database.