Wind turbines: the recycling puzzles of the renewable energy blades
It’s a big step for the wind energy sector.The Spanish company Siemens-Gamesa announced in early September the marketing of the first blades of 100% recyclable wind turbines: the "recyclableblade".At the heart of innovation: a new type of resin, epoxy, which makes it easy to separate the fiberglass or carbon used to make blades.According to the manufacturer, a simple heated acid bath would dissociate the materials.These could then be recovered to be recycled.With the resin used today, this process was much more complicated and not profitable.
In fact, today, the blades are mainly crushed to be revalued as fuel where the crushed is recovered to constitute new composite materials.Their burial is prohibited in France, unless the operator proves that there are no other solutions."It is socially very frowned upon, emphasizes the Official Economy and Industry of France Aeolian Energy (FEE) Rachel Ruamps, and reuse and resale are always more economically advantageous".The second -hand market develops in parallel in the sector."Machines are sent to other European countries," added the project manager, such as in Russia or Poland.
It must be said that the recycling innovations of the blades emerge only, while the first wind turbine was laid in France in 1991.The sector is actually confronted with the reality on the ground: wind turbines have a lifespan of 20 to 30 years and the first parks are starting to get out of breath."The question of the dismantling of the parks is therefore posed recently, it is a recent problem" attests Rachel Ruamps.
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A challenge that is just beginning.About 300 to 500 wind turbines per year will have to be dismantled between 2025 and 2030, according to the Earthly Terrestrial Officer at the Renewable Energies Syndicate, Camille Charpiat, interviewed by challenges.On a European scale, according to figures from the pro-wind Winderope association communicated to AFP, around 9,000 tonnes of blades per year will have to be eliminated in 2020 in Europe, 14,000 in 2023 and 25.000 tonnes in 2025.
At the same time, legislation is more and more demanding.A decree of June 2020 requires recycling of at least 90% of the mass of machines by July 2022, and a minimum of 35% of rotors (including the blades).By 2025 these percentages will have to switch respectively to 95% and 55% respectively.
The race is on
The race is in any case launched.Siemens-Games has announced that it had concluded agreements with three energy giants, the Germans RWE and WPD but also the French EDF renewable.And he is not the only one to look at this crucial subject.In December 2020, the French Institute for Technological Research Jules Verne and a consortium of wind energy actors, including Engie, Suez, LM Wind Power or Arkema launched the Zebra project to design a 100% recyclable paleHere 2023, for a budget of 18.5 million euros.
Other more creative tracks are explored today.For example, blades have been recovered to design tunnels and slides for a playground in Rotterdam in the Netherlands or to design a bicycle shelter in Aalbord in Denmark.
Pauline Fricot, @Paulinefricrac