Wind turbine blades that have reached the end of their life in the US are to be recycled and turned into raw material for use in cement manufacturing.
The recycling initiative, the first of its kind in the US, is a partnership between resource management company Veolia and GE Renewable Energy.
Once removed from the wind turbines, the blades – mainly composed of fiberglass – will be shredded at a Veolia plant in Missouri. The resulting material will then be used in the kilns to replace the coal, sand and clay needed to make cement. More than 90% of the blade will be reused: 65% as raw material in the cement plants, and 28% transformed into energy required for the chemical reaction in the kiln.
Recycling decommissioned wind turbine blades into cement production will result in a 27% reduction in CO2 emissions and 13% reduction in water consumption by the cement industry, according to Veolia.
A single wind turbine blade that weighs 7 US tons recycled through this process enables the cement kiln to avoid consuming nearly 5 tons of coal, 2.7 tons of silica, 1.9 tons of limestone, and nearly a ton of additional mineral-based raw materials. This solution, which can be rapidly deployed at scale, increases the environmental benefits of the wind industry.
Anne McEntee, CEO of GE Renewable Energy’s Digital Services business, said: “Sustainable disposal of composites such as wind turbine blades has been a challenge, not only for the wind turbine industry but also for aerospace, maritime, automotive and construction industries. VNA’s unique offering provides the opportunity to scale up and deploy quickly in North America, with minimum disruption to customers and significant benefit to the environment. We look forward to working with them on this effort to create a circular economy for composite materials.”
Rosa Medea is Life & Soul Magazine’s Chief. She writes about lifestyle including sustainable and green living.