Flourishing Wind Energy and the Problem of Waste

Must Read

UK Lockdown Causes Electricity Demand to Fall by 10%

The demand for electricity in the UK decreased by 10 per cent in the last week after the nation was put into a lockdown to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by the government.

Record Offshore Wind Power Growth Leads to Another Strong Year for Wind Power

Offshore wind turbine projects along with new onshore ventures in China and the United States have provided one of the strongest recorded years for wind power.

Renewable Energy will soon be Cheaper than Coal in all large Markets Across the World

Renewable energy sources, wind and solar power, will soon be cheaper than the existing cost for coal fired power, a recent report claims.

For environmentalists and many governments wind energy looks more like the future of clean energy and the silver lining of renewable energies. However, once a wind farm has closed down a serious waste problem rises threatening its green credentials.

Wind turbines are sturdy enough and made to last the longest, but not forever. Some have a lifespan of 20 years and thereafter have to be discarded. Most of them are recycled or end up with a new lease of life in another wind farm. However, disposal still remains a major issue. In the United States alone, over 720,000 tonnes of wind turbine blades and related material will need to be disposed within two decades even without counting the new generation of higher capacity, longer and newer blade versions.

Few recycling options

When it comes to recycling, very few options exist for blades. The choices in place are usually expensive, considering the youthfulness of the wind energy industry in most places, including the United States. While wind energy is a highly rated solution by environmentalists and clean energy advocates that could have a huge impact on the war against climate change, the problem of waste could dampen this hope.

 In fact, wind energy is already attracting huge investment from giant companies such as Hormel Foods and Budweiser while creating lots of jobs along the Great Plains and Midwestern areas of the United States.

Nebraska prairie in the mix

One of the wind projects to find itself with a major wind turbine blade waste problem is the Kimball Wind Project along the prairie southwest of Nebraska. The wind energy project now has a lot of waste to grapple with, which include turbine blades as long as 127 feet. After its life, a turbine’s parts can be sold or recycled up to 90 per cent, which are fibreglass and resin blend made, materials that are also used to create spaceship parts. However, once the blades are done, their value decreases and become almost useless.  

More difficulties

Once decommissioned, blades aren’t the easiest to transport and largely difficult to move around. Ranging between 100 feet and 300 feet in length, transporting them requires that they are slashed to smaller sizes for easier conveyance to landfills by trucks using specialised expensive machinery.

Since most wind projects are based in small municipalities having hundreds of very long turbine blades in a landfill mean local trash points will fill up fast majorly with wind farm wastes. Most of the disposal points in municipal areas in the US, such as Casper in Wyoming have crushing equipment that cannot crush blades effectively and has to be cut up into smaller manageable pieces to avoid incurring huge expenses for top of the range crushing systems.

Since the European Union waste management guidelines and laws are already clear on such waste disposal, most companies in Europe simply sell their old wind farm components such as blades to countries in Latin America and Asia.

New disposal methods

Even with waste problems it doesn’t mean new disposal methods aren’t being developed. Technology officers and researchers at Global Fibreglass Solutions have come up with a system for blades recycling where resin is removed from them. The resin is then ground to create pellets the size of chocolate for use in piping, pallets or decking. A start up for this exercise has already been launched in Texas with another in Des Moines in Iowa about to be leased.

Decommissioning of wind farms isn’t expected to stop and disposing the different parts will continue being a major headache for lots of stakeholders. To keep the clean energy credentials of wind and balance it with landfill footprint decrease, better and efficient ways of disposal must be developed and adopted.

Advertisements

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Latest News

UK Lockdown Causes Electricity Demand to Fall by 10%

The demand for electricity in the UK decreased by 10 per cent in the last week after the nation was put into a lockdown to help stop the spread of the coronavirus by the government.

Record Offshore Wind Power Growth Leads to Another Strong Year for Wind Power

Offshore wind turbine projects along with new onshore ventures in China and the United States have provided one of the strongest recorded years for wind power.

Renewable Energy will soon be Cheaper than Coal in all large Markets Across the World

Renewable energy sources, wind and solar power, will soon be cheaper than the existing cost for coal fired power, a recent report claims.

Solar Power Valuation Hikes Lidl Business Rates up by 528%

The German supermarket chain Lidl has had a gigantic increase in its business rates to 528% due to a change in the valuation of having solar installations at its sites.

Diesel Generator Vs. Petrol Generator: Advantages and Disadvantages

When buying a generator there are many considerations to keep in mind so that the generator fits your needs. Some of these considerations will include size, price, maintenance or engine type. This article is going to run you through the pros and cons on the two main engine types; a diesel engine or a petrol engine.

More Articles Like This

%d bloggers like this: