Meeting sustainability targets set by turbine and blade manufacturers will require cross-sector and inter-sector engagement and collaboration, panellists at WindEurope’s recent Electric City conference in Copenhagen , Denmark said. This collaborative approach will help to tackle challenges holistically, they added. Turbine manufacturers such as Siemens Gamesa Renewable Energy (SGRE) – which recently produced its first recyclable offshore wind blades – have made breakthroughs, but the industry still faces challenges.

Development of new, more easily recycled materials may create new ethical considerations, and the business case for investing in a recycling industry for the wind power sector needs to be developed and strengthened. However, developing recyclable blades and boosting the wind sector’s green credentials may also have its own rewards.

Speaking on the ‘Working towards 100% recyclable wind turbines’ panel, Mitja Schulz, CEO of advanced composites materials manufacturer Gurit, suggested sustainability could attract new workers to the industry. “When I speak to people applying to work for us, I hear people say – nine times out of ten – ‘I want to work somewhere that has a purpose and that is good for the world’,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bjarne Nielsen, vice-president of manufacturing and industrial strategy at GE-owned blade maker  LM Wind Power, which recently committed to producing zero-waste blades by 2030, suggested that sustainability could help to reduce costs. According to LM Wind Power, the company went carbon neutral in 2018. which Nielsen said was “not a cost, but a benefit to our results” due to it being more efficient with the processes it uses and its material consumption.

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Author: Craig Richard, Wind Power Monthly
Image: Siemens Gamesa