Vestas and Stena Recycling in partnership on circular solution for recycling of epoxy-based turbine blades
Vestas is presenting a new solution that renders epoxy-based turbine blades as circular, without the need for changing the design or composition of blade material.
Combining newly discovered chemical technology developed within the CETEC initiative, and partnerships with Olin and Stena Recycling, the solution can be applied to blades currently in operation. Once matured, this will eliminate the need for blade redesign, or landfill disposal of epoxy-based blades when they are decommissioned.
Turbine blades have previously been challenging to recycle due to the chemical properties of epoxy resin, a resilient substance that was believed to be impossible to break down into re-usable components. This has led to many technology leaders attempting to replace or modify epoxy resin with alternatives that can be more easily treated. Vestas’ solution is enabled by a novel chemical process that can chemically break down epoxy resin into virgin-grade materials. The chemical process was developed in collaboration with Aarhus University, Danish Technological Institute, and Olin the partners of the CETEC project, a coalition of industry and academia established to investigate circular technology for turbine blades.
For several decades, producing wind turbine blades manufactured with epoxy-based resin has been standard practice in the wind industry. In the most mature markets for wind energy, the first turbines are reaching the end of their operational life and this will increase over the coming years. WindEurope expects around 25,000 tonnes of blades to reach the end of their operational life annually by 2025.