The Second Life of Wind Turbine Blades

As the world pushes towards renewable energy, the wind energy industry comes to the forefront as a clean and a genuinely green energy. And like any other industry, the wind industry too is technologically evolving producing bigger and better upgrades, which means that old wind farms are being regularly decommissioned and refitted with upgraded equipment. Herein, comes the question of recycling, and the wind industry has a reputation to hold. Unfortunately, one of the largest component of a wind turbine —the blades— are completely unrecyclable.

Turbine blades are made from glass or carbon-fiber composites. These materials are strong, lightweight and has a significant aerodynamic advantage, but they are nearly impossible to recycle. Hence, at the end of their lifecycle, most of these blades end up as waste on landfills. According to one estimate, there will be 50,000 tons of blade waste in 2020, which will rise to more than 200,000 tons by 2034.