Recycling of wind turbine blades

Author: Joachim Plaetner Kjeldsen

Up to 95 percent of the material and components in a modern wind turbine can be disassembled and reused. On the other hand, the wings, which typically consist of fiberglass held together by hardened epoxy glue, are difficult to separate. Therefore, in many places, old wind turbine blades are deposited indefinitely.

But old turbine blades are also a resource, and fortunately there are creative companies that work with recycling them in various forms. The wings are strong, of course weather-resistant, and therefore have a wide range of applications, where it is almost only the imagination that sets the limits.

Here at the Nordic Folkecenter for Renewable Energy, we have reused turbine blades in many different ways. Our flagpole is made from an old blade, the foundation under our Tiny house is cast in slices from a blade, and the roof structure of our main entrance building is built from recycled blades. Here we have collected a small inspiration catalog of images of different ways to recycle turbine blades.

Reusable blades

Fortunately, the wind turbine industry is also aware that landfilling used blades is not a long-term solution. Siemens Gamesa has developed a technique where a mild acid can be used to break down the wings and separate them into their original components, which can then be reused. The company calls the technology RecyclableBlade, and the first offshore wind farm with this type of blades will be built off Germany in the summer of 2022. Siemens Gamesa’s goal is that all of the company’s turbine blades will be reusable by 2030.

Vestas is also working on a collaboration with, among others, the Technological Institute, Aarhus University, which aims to make Vestas’ wings fully reusable within a short number of years.

In the pictures above you can see how some companies recycle blades as furniture, as our CTO Tonny Brink experienced, when he attended the WindEnergy conference in Hamburg in 2022.