Recycling of wind turbine blades could benefit construction sector

(Image: EQRoy, Shutterstock)

A project to develop a wind turbine blade recycling system in Britain has been given the go-ahead, after securing a UK Government grant.

The £2 million, three-year project involves a consortium led by Aker Offshore Wind and researchers from the University of Strathclyde. It is hoped that the glass-fibre and resin components in composites can be separated and then reprocessed, moulded and reused in other industries – such as the motor trade and construction sectors.

The University of Strathclyde explained how, at present, giant wind turbine blades are either sent to landfill or to waste-to-energy plants once at the end of their working lives. It added that waste from wind turbine blades alone is expected to reach around two million tonnes globally by 2050, with UK volumes of composite waste already exceeding 100,000 tonnes per year.

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, principal and vice-chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said, “Wind energy is a key component of the transition to net zero and it is essential that the technology and materials that provide renewable energy are as sustainable as they can be. As we have seen at COP26 in Glasgow, a global move to renewable, sustainable sources of energy will help to make some of the biggest advances in the quest to tackle climate change.

“At Strathclyde, we have developed novel processes for recycling and reusing wind turbine blades, which will help to reduce waste in the renewables sector and wider industry. This project, and our partnership with Aker Offshore Wind, are examples of the research and industrial engagement which has placed Strathclyde at the forefront of innovation in renewable energy and composites sustainability.”