The world’s first wind turbine with a fully recyclable blade is now installed at the Kaskasi offshore wind farm. The wind farm is located 21 miles north of the island of Heligoland in the German North Sea.
According to the Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC), 94 GW of wind-powered energy generation was added in 2021 alone, taking total wind power capability to 837 GW, which is helping the world save 1.2 billion tons of carbon emissions.
However, an increase in the demand for wind turbines is likely to lead to a huge amount of waste once these windmills complete their lifetime. To make them lightweight, turbine manufacturers used a variety of components that are bound together with a resin, so that they do not fall apart in rough conditions. This is what makes them non-environment friendly when not generating power.
Last year, turbine makers Siemens Gamesa recognized the major issue of their product and began working on its Recyclable Blade. The company claims that it has replaced the resin that it uses on the blade which is now dissolvable in a mild acid solution.
When the blade completes its lifetime, the resin can be fully dissolved to recover the turbine components such as fiberglass and wood. It can then enter the circular economy to create new products like suitcases or flat-screen casings without requiring added raw materials.
The technology was developed at the company’s Aalborg facility in Denmark while the blades were manufactured at Hull in the U.K. The nacelle of the turbine is manufactured in Cuxhaven in Germany.
The RecyclableBlade has been installed as part of the Kaskasi offshore wind farm in the North Sea. The turbine blades are handcrafted and 265 feet (81 m) long. The Kaskasi wind farm is designed to have 38 of the company’s SG 8.0-167 DD turbines. The total output of the offshore project is 342 MW, which is expected to power 400,000 households in Germany.
“We’ve brought the Siemens Gamesa RecyclableBlade technology to market in only 10 months: from launch in September 2021 to installation at RWE’s Kaskasi project in July 2022,” said Marc Becker, CEO of the Siemens Gamesa Offshore Business Unit. “This is impressive and underlines the pace at which we all need to move to provide enough generating capacity to combat the global climate emergency.” The company plans to use this technology for all blades that it produces by 2040.
For now, the Recyclable Blade technology is also available for 354 feet (108 m) long B108 and 377 feet (115 m) long B115 blades that Siemens Gamesa uses for its SG 14-222 DD offshore and SG 14-236 DD turbines wind turbines.