Siemens Gamesa launches recyclable wind turbine blade
Image credit: Siemens Gamesa
Engineering company Siemens Gamesa has launched what it says is the world’s first wind turbine blade that can be recycled at the end of its life cycle.
Wind power is one cornerstone to help 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 introduce recyclable solutions.
So catering to this, Siemens Gamesa has introduced RecyclableBlade which is ready for commercial use offshore. With this technology, separation of the materials in the blade is possible at the end of its lifetime, enabling recycling into new applications and defines the next milestone in sustainability, according to the company.
The first six 81m-long RecyclableBlades have been produced at the Siemens Gamesa blade factory in Aalborg, Denmark.
“The time to tackle climate emergency is now, and we need to do it in a holistic way,” said Andreas Nauen, CEO of Siemens Gamesa. “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.”
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.
Siemens Gamesa will partner with RWE Renewables 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 of Wind Offshore, RWE Renewables said: “We are pleased that our offshore wind farm Kaskasi can 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 also working with EDF Renewables with the aim to deploy several sets of RecyclableBlade at a future offshore wind farm.
“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,” said Bruno Bensasson, EDF Group senior executive vice-president of Renewable Energies and CEO of EDF Renewables.
“EDF Renewables’ team is fully mobilised to develop this pioneer technology with its suppliers with the aim to improve the environmental sustainability of our projects. This agreement is in line with EDF Group's raison d’être: to conciliate the production of low-carbon electricity that benefits the climate and the reduction of local environmental impacts.”
Siemens Gamesa’s 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 separate the resin from the other components at end of the blade’s working life, the firm said. 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.
According to Siemens Gamesa, its offshore customers will now have the unique possibility to choose the RecyclableBlade as an option for their future projects. Siemens Gamesa has also recently launched an ambitious Sustainability Vision towards 2040. Under this umbrella, the company announced a goal to make turbines fully recyclable by 2040.
“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 significant step in that direction and well ahead of our 2040 goal,” said Gregorio Acero, head of quality management and health, safety, and environment at Siemens Gamesa.
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