New partnership aims to deliver circular and sustainable wind sector

SSE Renewables

A new partnership between industry and academia is hoped to help develop a circular and sustainable wind sector in the UK.

SSE Renewables, Renewable Parts Limited (RPL), and the University of Strathclyde have announced a memorandum of understanding (MoU) outlining how they will work together to achieve a number of objectives.

These include securing a ‘world leading’ UK wind circular economy sector deal; supporting SSE Renewables in delivering its net zero ambitions by increasing the circularity of its 2GW of operational onshore wind assets; and developing a strategy to reduce waste from SSE’s wind farms at the end of their life.

SSE Renewables said that, while the ‘majority’ of minor components in a wind turbine can be reused, manufactured, or refurbished, ‘most’ replacement parts are still sourced new – thus increasing the carbon footprint of the industry.

The partnership also plans on developing sustainable supply chains through research and innovation with a range of partners, with the aim of establishing Scotland as the advanced research and development centre for wind turbine component remanufacture within the UK.

SSE Renewables added that this will support the reduction of carbon emissions of renewable energy assets, as well as support supply chain resilience and generate new, skilled jobs for the UK.

Stephen Wheeler, MD of SSE Renewables, said, “This MoU sends an important message that SSE Renewables is serious about making sure renewable energy is truly sustainable. For SSE Renewables, sustainability is right at the core of our business strategy.

“We’ve recently appointed a new head of sustainability to our executive team, and we’re taking action to power sustainable change across our development and operational activities while championing a fair and just transition to net zero.

“Delivering on the ambition of this new partnership with the University of Strathclyde and Renewable Parts to develop sustainable supply chains and a circular economy in the UK wind sector is an significant step forward on our journey to net zero. This partnership will also help create highly-skilled, high-quality jobs and value for people across Scotland and the UK too.”

Professor Sir Jim McDonald, vice-chancellor and principal of the University of Strathclyde, added, “This joint agreement builds on our successful long standing collaborations with both SSE Renewables and RPL and links our technical expertise to the low carbon energy sector.

“Strathclyde’s role as the leading research and skills partner will underpin the growth and development of the sector, de-risking innovation and positioning the university and the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland as leading institutions for sustainability in designing, manufacturing and operating wind turbines, as well as in education and skills development across the sector.”

James Barry, chief executive of Renewable Parts Ltd, commented, “This agreement marks a highly significant step in cooperation between our organisations, accelerating the deployment of circular economy solutions into operational service.

“Decarbonisation of the supply chain through the application of parts remanufacture presents one of the greatest opportunities to increase sustainability and reduce environmental impact. This co-investment in new technology will not only enhance operational performance, but will create many new, high skilled jobs in the renewables sector within the UK economy.”

Other companies and organisations working in this space are encouraged to join the partnership. Interested parties can get in touch by contacting