GE’s renewable energy unit said it would manufacture zero waste wind turbine blades by the year 2030, becoming the latest operator in the sector to try to develop more sustainable production processes.
In a statement, GE Renewable Energy said its Denmark-headquartered LM Wind Power subsidiary would “reuse, repurpose, recycle or recover all the excess materials from manufacturing of blades, giving up on landfilling and incineration as waste management solutions.”
The LM Wind Power announcement only relates to waste from the manufacturing process and does not cover what happens to the blades when their service life ends.
The firm is looking to address the latter in a number of ways. It is part of the DecomBlades consortium, an initiative focused on blade recycling and made up of several major players in the industry.
It’s also involved in ZEBRA, or the Zero Waste Blade Research project, which is focused on the design and manufacture of fully recyclable wind turbine blades.
The issue of what to do with wind turbine blades when they’re no longer needed has become a headache for the industry. This is because the composite materials that blades are made from can prove difficult to recycle, meaning many end up as landfill when their service life ends.
As governments around the world attempt to ramp up their renewable energy capacity, the number of wind turbines worldwide only looks set to grow, which will in turn increase pressure on the sector to find sustainable and manageable solutions for the disposal of blades.
Against this backdrop, industry body WindEurope has said it wants a “Europe-wide landfill ban on decommissioned wind turbine blades by 2025” while a number of companies have sought to develop their own solutions to the challenge.