German energy giant RWE started to test a wind turbine with fully recyclable blades at its offshore project Kaskasi. It is the first deployment of the technology, developed by Siemens Gamesa.
The first commercial installation of wind turbines with recyclable blades took place at RWE’s Kaskasi offshore wind power project in Germany. It marks a turning point in the long-term sustainability of offshore wind power, said Siemens Gamesa.
“We are proving that as the leaders of the offshore revolution, we are committed to making disruptive technology innovation commercially viable with the pace that the climate emergency demands. 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.
Landfills are no place for wind turbine blades
Siemens Gamesa aims to have fully recyclable turbines by 2040. Other large players in the sector recently announced ambitious plans for the recycling of blades and the conversion to energy or useful material.
Existing recycling services are not yet mature enough, widely available at an industrial scale or cost-competitive
As the first generations of wind power plants are being decommissioned, landfilling such big items has become a major issue. WindEurope called on the European Commission last year to facilitate a ban by 2025 on landfilling the components, for which there are currently few viable alternatives.
The standard lifetime of an onshore wind farm is 20 to 25 years and 85% to 90% of the total mass of a wind turbine can already be recycled. Blades are the biggest challenge. There are technologies available to recycle the composite materials in blades, and an increasing number of companies offer composite recycling services, but these solutions are not yet mature enough, widely available at an industrial scale or cost-competitive.
Recycled blades can be used to make other products
“That we are testing in our offshore wind farm Kaskasi the world’s first recyclable wind turbine blades under operational conditions is a significant step in advancing the sustainability of wind turbines to the next level,” said Sven Utermöhlen, Wind Offshore CEO at RWE Renewables.
The blades are made up of a combination of materials embedded in resin. The separation of the resin, fiberglass and wood, among others, is achieved by using a mild acid solution. The materials can be used for new products like suitcases or flat-screen casings.
The separation of the resin, fiberglass and wood, among other materials, is achieved by using a mild acid solution.
A number of turbines of RWE’s Kaskasi offshore wind farm will be equipped with the B81 blades, each with a length of 81 meters. They were developed in Aalborg, Denmark, manufactured in Hull in the United Kingdom, and the nacelles were produced in Cuxhaven, Germany.
The technology is also available for the 108-meter long B108 blades used on Siemens Gamesa’s 14-222 DD offshore wind turbine and the 115-meter long B115 blades for 14-236 DD turbines.
The 342 MW project is located 35 kilometers north of the island of Heligoland in the German North Sea. It will be comprised of 38 8.0-167 DD turbines.