Wind energy – blade recycling
A UK Government grant has been secured for an innovative pilot to develop the UK’s first wind blade turbine recycling plant.
The £2 million three-year project involves a consortium led by Aker Offshore Wind and Scottish researchers at University of Strathclyde and Composites UK – Trade Association to develop a commercially viable solution. The aim of ensuring a more sustainable future for the global wind industry and the wider composites manufacturing industry – accelerating the drive towards net zero emissions and waste and creating new skills and job opportunities in the UK.
The pilot will now get underway to develop a commercially viable solution, overseen by industry lead Aker Offshore Wind, trade body Composites UK, and researchers at the University of Strathclyde’s Advanced Composites Group and Lightweight Manufacturing Centre, which is a part of the National Manufacturing Institute Scotland Group.
Other academic and industry partners include Nottingham University, global waste management firm SUEZ, composite distributor GRP Solutions, and composite part manufacturer Cubis.
The project is set up to commercialise a revolutionary method developed by the University of Strathclyde to separate the glass-fibre and resin components in composites and recover the glass-fibre component which can then be reprocessed, moulded, and reused in other industries, such as the motor trade and the construction industry.
Innovate UK, the UK Government’s innovation agency, has awarded £1.3 million to the project, with Aker Offshore Wind contributing more than £500,000 to make the project a reality.
At present, when giant turbine blades reach the end of their working lives, there are only two options for managing the waste: send them to a landfill or to waste-to-energy plants where they are combusted at significant energy cost.
The environmental benefits from this project cannot be understated as waste from wind turbine blades alone are expected to reach around 2 million tonnes globally by 2050, and UK volumes of composite waste already exceed 100,000 tonnes per year.