‘The wind turbine blade will be there, ultimately, forever…’
(Joshua Paladino, Liberty Headlines) As tens of thousands of wind turbine blades reach their expiration date, energy companies are looking for ways to dispose of the non-recyclable materials.
Due to their heavy-duty design, fiberglass blades cannot be repurposed or condensed, and they’re difficult to transport, given that they extend up to the length of a football field, Bloomberg reported.
In an unfortunate conflict, the wind turbines, intended to rescue earth’s environment will begin to stack up in landfills at an increasing rate.
Companies in the United States will take down about 8,000 turbine blades each year for the next four years.
That number will skyrocket in coming years and decades, as new wind-turbine installations are five times higher today than they were 10 years ago.
“The wind turbine blade will be there, ultimately, forever,” said Bob Cappadona, COO of the North American Veolia Environnement SA, a group exploring options for decomissioned turbine blades.
“Most landfills are considered a dry tomb,” Cappadona said. “The last thing we want to do is create even more environmental challenges.”
Manufacturers designed turbine blades to last for a decade or two, so energy companies are now dealing with a wave of deteriorating blades.
Right now, only landfills in Lake Mills, Iowa; Sioux Falls, South Dakota; and Casper, Wyoming accept the blades.
Even so, they’re difficult to transport, and their transportation presents another collision between reality and environmentalism.
Diesel-burning 18-wheelers have to haul the blades thousands of miles across the country to sites that will accept them.
Global Fiberglass Solutions, a start-up in Sweetwater, Texas, has an innovative solution to the problem.
The company is using new methods to decompose the boards and repurpose them into fiberglass floors and walls. But they need a market of construction companies that want to use their materials.
“We can process 99.9% of a blade and handle about 6,000 to 7,000 blades a year per plant,” said Chief Executive Officer Don Lilly. “When we start to sell to more builders, we can take in a lot more of them. We’re just gearing up.”