Denmark – Ørsted has pledged to reuse, recycle, or recover all wind turbine blades in its global portfolio of onshore and offshore wind farms after they are decommissioned.
The pledge is part of Ørsted’s new company strategy, which includes a goal of expanding its leading sustainability position and working toward a carbon-neutral footprint by 2040.
Recycling wind turbines still a challenge
Today, between 85 and 95 percent of a wind turbine may be recycled; however, recycling wind turbine blades remains difficult since the blades are engineered to be lightweight yet sturdy, making them difficult to break apart. As a result, the majority of deactivated blades are now landfilled. If the recycling blades challenge takes longer than expected, Ørsted will not employ landfilling for decommissioned wind turbine blades, but will instead temporarily store the blades.
In the coming decade, wind turbines will be deployed at an unprecedented pace, delivering clean renewable energy to industries and to several hundreds of million people, making it even more important to decommission the blades in a sustainable way.
Finding recycling solutions
Ørsted has built 7.5 GW of offshore wind and 1.7 GW of onshore wind so far. Until date, Ørsted has only demolished the offshore wind farm Vindeby in Denmark, where all 11 wind turbine blades were repurposed. With Ørsted’s new strategic aim of deploying 30 GW of offshore wind and 17.5 GW of onshore energy output, including onshore wind, by 2030, Ørsted has a clear obligation to assist in finding solutions to the recycling blades dilemma.
As a founding partner of the cross-sector DecomBlades collaboration of wind industry businesses and academic institutions, Ørsted is already contributing to the advancement of technology that can recycle wind turbine blades in a sustainable manner. The consortium’s goal is to explore and develop technologies for recycling the composite material used in wind turbine blades. The consortium recently won three years of funding from Innovation Fund Denmark for their efforts.