Please invest in Our Daily Planet today, by making a one time or monthly contribution.
We do not charge our readers a subscription fee for our content. We want to continue to grow our readership, particularly among millennials and public servants. Voluntary contributions from readers will help us employ interns and freelance journalists, expand our content, and reach a larger audience.
Wind energy has seen impressive growth in the United States over the past decade with offshore wind standing as the next big phase in renewable energy expansion. However, now that the first generation of wind turbines are nearing the end of their lifespan, we’re being faced with a growing sustainability concern: what to do with the massive turbine blades.
“Wind power is generated via massive fiberglass blades, each of which can be longer than a Boeing 747 wing. Built to withstand hurricane-force winds, the blades can’t easily be crushed—or recycled or repurposed for that matter. It’s a curious conundrum: Tens of thousands of blades must be replaced each year and most have nowhere to go but landfills.“
Another factor to consider is the use of heavy-duty vehicles necessary to detach and transport turbine blades to a recycling or waste facility.
The Recycling Options: As the BBC reported, Don Lilly, chief executive of Global Fiberglass Solutions in Bellevue, Washington has been working to transform fiberglass composites into small pellets he calls EcoPoly. The pellets can then be turned into injectable plastics, or highly waterproof boards that can be used in construction, he says.
Another solution is called pyrolysis: after first chopping up the blades, pyrolysis breaks up the composite fibers in ovens with an inert atmosphere, at about 450-700C. The process recovers fibers other industries can reuse for glues, paints, and concrete.
However, carbon fiber blades traditionally haven’t been recyclable at all. This is an issue the wind industry is working to solve.
Why This Matters: Some analysts predict that 2020 will be a big year for wind energy in the United States. Though some attacks on the environmental footprint of renewables like solar panels and EVs have been driven by the fossil fuel industry, we do still have to mine rare earth minerals for a lot of this technology with comes with a serious human and environmental cost. This means that as we develop, deploy, and upgrade green technology like wind turbines, solar panels, and batteries we’ll have to think of how to make these important innovations more circular and equitable for the communities where they’re deployed.
by Natasha Lasky, ODP Contributing Writer The city of San Jose, CA will become the largest city in the United States to ban natural gas from all new construction. The San Jose City Council is expected to approve a proposal that forbids natural gas use in new commercial and high-rise residential buildings, expanding an earlier […]
Chicago-based Invenergy announced this week that it will construct at a site in northeastern Texas a $1.6 billion project that will provide 1,310-megawatts of solar energy by 2023. The project is likely to create approximately 600 jobs during the construction, as well as bring in more than $250 million in landowner payments and $200 million in […]
by Ashira Morris, ODP Contributing Writer Since the beginning of the pandemic, most Americans have received a single check for $1,200. However, fossil fuel companies are not most Americans. The US government spent big — $15 billion dollars big — to help the companies responsible for the climate crisis. According to a new analysis by […]
Our Daily Planet is your daily dose of the stories shaping our world and the ways that you can take action. From the climate crisis to the protection of biodiversity, if these issues matter to you then please subscribe & stay informed!
Your privacy is Important! We promise never to use your email address to send you spam or advertisements.