Flourishing Wind Energy and the Problem of Waste

Must Read

Hornsea 2 – A sea change for UK Wind Power

Wind power provides an ever growing amount of electricity for the United Kingdom and by the end of July 2019, it...

Toxic Air Reduction Imminent in the UK with the Introduction of a Clean Air Act

Air quality in the UK could soon be enhanced after Chris Philp, a Conservative MP, introduced a Clean...

Scientists Reveal Solar Power in China is more Affordable than Grid Electricity

New research has indicated that compared to grid electricity in Chinese cities, solar energy is actually cheaper.  This is...

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

Hornsea 2 – A sea change for UK Wind Power

Wind power provides an ever growing amount of electricity for the United Kingdom and by the end of July 2019, it...

Toxic Air Reduction Imminent in the UK with the Introduction of a Clean Air Act

Air quality in the UK could soon be enhanced after Chris Philp, a Conservative MP, introduced a Clean Air Act. The legislation in itself...

Scientists Reveal Solar Power in China is more Affordable than Grid Electricity

New research has indicated that compared to grid electricity in Chinese cities, solar energy is actually cheaper.  This is expected to raise the uptake of...

Nuclear Energy’s Hydrogen Seen as a Low Carbon Power Source UK Needs

According to the Committee on Climate Change report, UK hydrogen technology development has been lagging. To change this, diverse projects have been set up...

Hyundai Sonata-The New Way of Powering a Luxury Car Using the Sun

Lots of industries have adopted solar energy in different ways and the automotive industry hasn’t been left behind. The Korean carmaker, Hyundai has launched...

More Articles Like This

%d bloggers like this: