The wind energy market has experienced an exponential growth in the last few decades, with thousands of wind turbines having been installed every year worldwide. Predictions indicate that the trend will go on for many more years, keeping wind energy at the forefront of renewable energy generation worldwide and helping the world to have safe, reliable, sustainable and cheap energy.
The average useful life of wind turbines is about 20 years. After this period, the mechanical and structural properties of the turbines decay and refurbishments in some cases might be necessary to extend their lifetime for a few more years, while in other cases, the wind turbines are dismantled. Whereas the biggest portion of wind turbine components are quite easy to recycle and reuse (i.e. metal parts), there is a small non-metallic portion of components that is less easy to recycle or reuse, namely the blades of the wind turbines. These are mostly made of composite materials (typically glass/carbon fibres + epoxy matrix), plus some other minor components/materials (e.g. glue and gelcoat), making this task particularly challenging.
As the first generations of wind turbine technology approach the end-of-life and must be dismantled, the need to find adequate methods to recycle and reuse the blades (and its components) gains increasing relevance and importance. Hence, Enel Green Power (EGP) is looking for the best available methods to recycle and/or reuse the materials the wind turbine blades, in order to be more and more sustainable, under a circular economy perspective.
This Challenge provides contribution to the following Sustainable Development Goals:
- SDG 11 - Sustainable cities and communities
- SDG 12 - Responsible consumption and production
- SDG 13 - Climate action
This Theoretical Challenge requires only a written proposal.
Challenge Expiration Date: February 17, 2019
Illustration Photo: Wind Turbine blade (credits: Dennis Schroeder / NREL / Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0))