By Nora Buli
OSLO (Reuters) – Vattenfall aims to recycle all its used wind turbine blades by 2030, the Swedish tool said on Tuesday and will immediately stop throwing them in landfills.
The decision applies to the wind farms that it owns and commits Vattenfall to reuse, recycle or recycle 100% of the decommissioned blades in an attempt to reduce the wind industry’s environmental impact.
“The transition to a circular economy is the key to tackling climate challenges and achieving the company’s goal of becoming net-zero by 2040,” said a spokesman.
Wind turbines are generally non-recyclable and end up in large landfills that have begun to attract the attention of environmental activists.
“It is no longer acceptable for composite waste from the wind industry to be placed in landfills, even if specific national legislation allows it,” said Eva Philipp, head of environment and sustainability at Vattenfall’s wind turbines, in a statement to Reuters.
Vattenfall, which operates approximately 3.3 gigawatts of wind and offshore wind power capacity in Europe, aims for a recycling rate of 50% of the wind turbine’s blades by 2025 and rises to 100% by 2030 – a major challenge, it is said that recycling solutions currently exist not on a large scale.
Until the recycling industry has developed, Vattenfall will mostly rely on a “co-processing” method where the knives are shredded to create a material that can be used to produce cement, the spokesman said.
The company will close its Irene Vorrink wind farm in the Netherlands next year, consisting of 28 turbines or 84 blades, but few wind farms in its portfolio will follow until 2025.
“As we get closer to 2030, the amount will increase as well as the mass of materials to be recycled as newer turbines are larger and have longer blades,” it added.
Earlier this year, Danmarks Orsted undertook to reuse, recycle or restore all its wind turbines during decommissioning. Turbine manufacturers Siemens Gamesa and Vestas have also announced new technology for recycling and production to handle waste management.
(Reporting by Nora Buli; Editing by Kirsten Donovan)